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Battered Capitals beat Panthers 4-1

by John Kreiser /

The Washington Capitals didn't let losing two more players keep them from getting two more points.

The Alex Ovechkin-less Capitals got two goals from Brendan Morrison in Friday night's 4-1 victory over the Panthers despite leaving with two fewer healthy bodies than they came with.

Washington defensemen Mike Green (upper body) and Jeff Schultz (lower body) both left in the first period and didn't return.

Coach Bruce Boudreau said their status would be updated Saturday before the teams play again in Washington.

''Really good teams usually have to play with a lot of injuries, because their guys are willing to pay the price of winning,'' Boudreau said. ''I just hope our price wasn't too high.''

Ovechkin missed his second consecutive game because of an upper-body injury that he sustained Sunday against Columbus. The two-time defending league MVP is considered week to week and didn't participate in the morning skate. It was the sixth time Ovechkin missed a game in his five-season NHL career, and the fourth time an injury has sidelined him.

In his absence, Jose Theodore stopped 28 shots and defenseman Brian Pothier stepped up with a goal and two assists as Washington (9-3-4) ended an 0-1-2 slide.

Nathan Horton scored midway through the third period for Florida and Tomas Vokoun, coming off back-to-back shutouts, made 21 saves. Vokoun stopped 77 consecutive shots, dating to a second-period goal in Florida's 4-3 loss to Ottawa on Oct. 28, before Tyler Sloan scored 15:07 into the game.

''They're a desperate team,'' Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. ''They'd lost three in a row. Got some key players out, we've been on the other end of that. They were hungrier in the tough areas tonight than we were. There's no excuse for that.''

Sloan opened the scoring at 4:53 in the first period with a shot from the high slot. But Boudreau credited Theodore with helping the Caps get off to a quick start.

''Especially in the first five minutes of the game, when they had some tremendous chances and they came out on us, Jose did a great job holding the fort until we were able to get a couple goals,'' Boudreau said.

Morrison roofed a pass from Brooks Laich 10:46 into the second period to make it 2-0. Pothier's power-play goal, a slapper from the left point past Vokoun's glove, gave Washington a three-goal lead at 6:56 of the third.

Florida's only goal came at 10:27 of the third after Theodore made the initial save onDmitry Kulikov's slap shot. Horton put the rebound in, spoiling what would have been Theodore's first shutout since a 3-0 win at Florida on March 17.

''You never want to get scored on,'' Pothier said. ''Obviously we would have loved to get the shutout, but we want to win.''

Morrison added an empty-netter with 38.5 seconds remaining.

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