Final SO

Series (Game 4 of 8)

Florida leads 7-1

Game 1: Thursday, October 20th
Game 2: Thursday, December 1st
Game 3: Sunday, December 18th
Game 4: Sunday, January 8th
Game 5: Tuesday, February 7th
Game 6: Saturday, March 18th
Game 7: Wednesday, March 22nd
Game 8: Saturday, April 15th

Panthers 4

(17-22-6, 40 pts)

Capitals 3

(13-23-4, 30 pts)

3:00 PM ET, January 8, 2006

Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia

1 2 3 SO T
FLA 1 2 0 14
WSH 2 0 1 03

O. Jokinen (Panthers - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

D. Zubrus (Capitals - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

R. Luongo (Panthers - G): Saves: 33, Save Pct.: .917

Luongo saves Panthers' shootout win over Caps

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Thanks to Roberto Luongo, the Florida Panthers ended a grueling road swing with five points and a break-even record.

Luongo made two shootout saves, Nathan Horton and Joe Nieuwendyk scored shootout goals and the Panthers beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 on Sunday.

"It was a must-win for us, obviously," said Panthers center Olli Jokinen, who scored twice. "I guess we have to be satisfied -- we played .500. But at this point in the year, it's not going to be enough for us."

Sean Hill added a goal in regulation for the Panthers, who ended a season-long five-game road trip with a 2-2-1 record. Horton and Nieuwendyk added two assists apiece.

Dainius Zubrus had two goals and Jamie Heward also scored for Washington, which squandered a 2-0 lead and has dropped four straight. Alex Ovechkin had two assists.

"We had a jump at the beginning of the game," Zubrus said. "We were playing well and then, just like a couple of games ago, we got into trouble with penalties. Seems like a broken record."

Horton and Nieuwendyk both scored by putting the puck between Olaf Kolzig's pads after Kolzig had blocked the first shootout attempt by Jokinen. Brooks Laich scored a shootout goal for the Capitals, but Luongo made a kick save at the left post on Ovechkin and batted away Brian Willsie's shot with his left hand.

Ovechkin was 5-for-7 on shootout attempts before being denied by Luongo's sprawling stop.

"That's my job -- make saves and try to keep my team in it. I was trying to wait (Ovechkin) out," said Luongo, who made 29 saves in regulation and four more in overtime. "I just hoped I could get a piece of it."

Florida won its second game at MCI Center this season, snapping a three-game losing streak. Against the rest of the NHL, the Panthers are 3-16-4 on the road. The Panthers have also won five straight overall against Washington.

"We just got lucky in here a couple of times," Horton said. "We worked hard, we battled and we got points."

Heward's slap shot from the right point gave Washington a 1-0 lead 19 seconds into the game, and Zubrus got his 100th career goal on a power play to make it 2-0 at 3:57.

Zubrus dashed to the right post to put in a cross-crease pass from Matt Pettinger, giving the Capitals a power-play goal in nine straight games, a season high.

Hill's wrister from the top of the right circle at 17:25 cut the lead in half.

Florida, which failed on a 1:04 two-man advantage in the opening period, got goals from Jokinen on successive power-play opportunities 50 seconds apart midway through the second.

A holding penalty on Steve Eminger set up Jokinen's 19th goal of the season at 10:16. Jokinen fired a shot past a screened Kolzig from the right point to tie it.

Laich went off for high-sticking 12 seconds later and Jokinen put the Panthers ahead at 11:06, sweeping in a cross-ice feed by Nieuwendyk from low in the left circle.

Zubrus' man-up goal tied it with 7:17 left in regulation. Zubrus scored from the right circle, one-timing a pass from Bryan Muir.

Game notes

Jokinen had not scored a goal in five games, matching his longest drought of the season. ... Zubrus has a point in five straight games, a career high. ... Ovechkin has assisted on all six of Heward's goals. ... Florida scratched C Stephen Weiss (wrist) for a fourth consecutive game, while Capitals C Jeff Halpern (groin) missed his third straight game.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press