SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) _ Hours after trading their top scorer, the Washington
Capitals needed just two periods to find their touch around the net.
Brian Willsie scored the first of four third-period goals for the Capitals
in a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.
Willsie's goal snapped Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo's shutout streak at
a club-record 182 minutes, 37 seconds. Luongo faced 29 shots, 12 in the third
Earlier Friday, the Capitals sent Robert Lang, who shares the league lead in
points, to the Detroit Red Wings for Tomas Fleischmann, a first-round draft
pick this year and a fourth rounder in 2006 to the Capitals.
``We just come to the rink everyday and if a guy's leaving we wish him well
and try to pick up the slack,'' Willsie said. ``It was tough without Robert but
we battled through that. It was a great win.''
Kip Miller, Alexander Semin and Mike Grier each scored for the Capitals, and
Olaf Kolzig made 28 saves.
Mike Van Ryn scored for the Panthers, who lost for the first time in six
Washington posted its first win in four games (1-2-1) and first against the
Panthers this season (1-2-2).
``We did a lot of good things tonight,'' Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said.
``Right from the start it was fun.''
Van Ryn scored a power-play goal at 11:22 of the second period to open the
scoring. His shot from just inside the blue line deflected in off a Washington
The Capitals capitalized on a Panthers' turnover to tie it 1-all at 4:47 of
the third period. Florida's pass from behind its net was intercepted in the
high slot, and Willsie beat Luongo on the glove side with a slap shot.
``He's a great goalie but we kept driving the net and getting shots on
him,'' Willsie said. ``We're happy to get the win more than anything.''
Breaking Luongo's shutout streak seemed to rattle the Panthers.
``It's a game we needed, that's the bottom line,'' Luongo said. ``When the
score was 1-1, the game wasn't over. We went into total panic mode, I don't
know what happened there.''
Miller gave Washington a 2-1 lead at 11:19. Jeff Halpern took a shot from
above the left circle and Luongo made the initial save. But the puck trickled
to the right side of the crease and Miller poked it across the line.
``Halpern made a good play to kick it towards the net and I happened to be
right where it was,'' Miller said. ``I was lucky to be in the right place at
the right time.''
It was the first game this season that the Capitals came back after trailing
in the third period and it came against one of the hottest goalies in the
``We were due. You can't keep the shutout streak going forever,'' Miller
added. ``I'm glad we were here to end it.''
Semin made it 3-1 at 16:33 when he stole the puck from Andreas Lilja behind
the net and took a backhander that hit off the post and went in.
Grier added an empty-net goal at 19:50 to complete the scoring.
``Every game's for us like a playoff game right now,'' Florida's Olli
Jokinen said. ``That's what's so frustrating [about tonight]. We've got 17
games left and we have to bounce back right away.''