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Capitals hope to continue domination of Panthers

by Adam Kimelman /
PANTHERS (12-14-0) at CAPITALS (18-8-3)


Last 10 --
Florida 4-6-0; Washington 4-4-2

Season series -- This is the first of six meetings between the Southeast Division rivals. The Capitals swept the season series last season, with five of the six games being decided by at least three goals.

Big Story --
The Panthers have won two straight and three of their last five, while the Capitals are winless in their last three and have had surprising trouble scoring goals.

Team Scope:

Panthers -- Coming off a career-best 28 goals last season, Stephen Weiss was expected to be the centerpiece of the Florida offense. He hasn't fit that spot this season, but he certainly played like it Tuesday. Weiss had his second multi-goal game of the season -- and his first goals in seven games -- in the Panthers' 4-3 come-from-behind overtime win against the Avalanche. His first goal tied the game late in the second period, and then he scored the winner 43 seconds into overtime.

"It was a big goal for sure, just for the club and personally," Weiss told reporters. "It's been a bit of a struggle, so it feels good to get it."

Weiss has 7 goals this season, but had scored just 2 in 14 games prior to Tuesday.

Capitals -- While Washington might be struggling, Mathieu Perreault is emerging as a bright spot. Called up from AHL Hershey on Monday, he scored a pair of goals in the Caps' 5-4 shootout loss to the Maple Leafs.

"He brought great energy (Monday), like we thought," coach Bruce Boudreau told the Washington Post. "He made plays, like we thought. If some of the other forwards had played with as much energy as him, we wouldn't have been in the situation we were in."

This most recent call-up is Perreault's second this season. In three late-October games, he had 2 assists. He's second in scoring for AHL Hershey with 25 points in 18 games.

Who's Hot --
Panthers forward David Booth had a goal and an assist Tuesday against Colorado, giving him 16 points on the season and matching his total from last season. … Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has goals in consecutive games, something he hasn't done since Oct. 28-30.

Injury Report --
Panthers forwards Rostislav Olesz (broken finger) and Radek Dvorak (shoulder) are on injured reserve. Defenseman Bryan Allen (broken foot) and forwards Cory Stillman (back spasms) and Chris Higgins (infected right foot) all missed Tuesday's game and are questionable for Thursday. … Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a broken thumb, and defenseman John Erskine is questionable for Thursday's game with an undisclosed injury.

Stat Pack --
With 12 goals in 29 games, Ovechkin is on pace for a career-low 34 goals. The fewest goals he's scored in a full season are 46 in 2006-07.

Puck Drop --
Alexander Semin is having the best of his six seasons in Washington, leading the team with 18 goals and placing second with 33 points. He's on pace for his best full-season numbers, but he's also scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Caps GM George McPhee wouldn't comment recently when asked about the status of negotiations by the Washington Post. Semin wasn't much more forthcoming.

"Everything is going well here," he told the Post through an interpreter in a rare one-on-one interview. "I want to continue winning, to stay here. I want to win the (Stanley) Cup here. It's a good team, with good coaches and training staff. I'm not thinking much further ahead now. Once there's an offer, I will, but I'm comfortable with this team."

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