PANTHERS (3-1-0) at CAPITALS (4-0-0)
TV: FS-F, CSN-DC
First of six meetings between these Southeast Division rivals. They split the games on the 2010-11 slate. Dennis Wideman
's overtime goal gave the Panthers a 4-3 win on Jan. 11 -- he was dealt to the Capitals later in the season. Tomas Vokoun
won all three of his starts for Florida -- he signed as a free agent with Washington during the offseason.
Despite being the No. 1 goalie coming out of preseason, according to Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, Vokoun sat on opening night as Michal Neuvirth
was in net for an overtime win over the Hurricanes. Vokoun has started the three games since, however, and looked better with each appearance. There's a good chance he'll get the nod again Tuesday after Neuvirth left Monday's practice early nursing a bruised foot.
Fresh off a sweep of Tampa Bay in a home-and-home series, Florida has the opportunity to improve to 3-0-0 in the division with a win Tuesday. The Panthers won in overtime on their ice Saturday, then put a damper on the opener for the Lightning at St. Pete Times Forum on Monday with an offensive outburst in a 7-4 triumph. Kris Versteeg
's second power-play goal of the game proved to be the winner, while Stephen Weiss
also tallied twice, including a key insurance goal with 4:32 remaining. The Panthers went 5-for-9 with the man advantage.
"We're slowly picking away, and tonight it explodes," coach Kevin Dineen said. "We'd love to take credit for all our schemes, but there was a lot of high-end talent out there. They weren't the pretty plays. They were making real quality plays, and we were getting the puck at the net. That was the difference."
There was nothing overwhelming about Washington's 2-1 victory over Ottawa on Saturday night, but a quick scoring burst in the first period and a strong effort down the stretch by Vokoun was sufficient for the Capitals to improve to 4-0-0 for the third time in franchise history and first in 14 years. Nicklas Backstrom
and Marcus Johansson
scored in a 3:14 span, Peter Regin answered for the Senators in the final minute of the first, and Vokoun finished the night with 33 saves.
"We had some chances to break it open but we didn't do it. In the clutch, we did what we had to do," Boudreau said. "Not every game is going to be beautiful and the other team wants to win, too."
Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell
collected 4 assists Monday and has 7 for the season. Versteeg and Weiss each added a pair of assists for 4-point nights. … Vokoun has stopped 72 of 75 shots over the last two games after allowing five goals on 28 shots in his debut for the Capitals, a shootout win against the Lightning.
Florida forward Mike Santorelli
(shoulder) and goaltender Scott Clemmensen
(knee) are on injured reserve. … Neuvirth and forward Jay Beagle
(head) are day-to-day for Washington, while defensemen John Erskine
(shoulder) and Tom Poti
(groin) are on injured reserve.
Santorelli scored 4 goals to lead the Panthers in last season's series, while 11 different Capitals put the puck in the net at least once, with Alex Ovechkin
, Mike Knuble
and Johansson recording 2 goals apiece.
Veteran defenseman Roman Hamrlik
passed Bobby Holik for the most games by a Czech born and trained player when he skated in Washington's win over Ottawa. Hamrlik, the No. 1 pick in the 1992 Entry Draft by Tampa Bay, has now played in 1,315 career games over 19 seasons with the Lightning, Oilers, Islanders, Flames, Canadiens and Capitals.
"It feels good," Hamrlik said. "When I started playing I never thought that I can make it and I've played so many games, but the most important thing is that we have two points tonight. And you know, that was just another game for me. There have been lots of games and hopefully more coming."