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Capitals at Panthers preview

Washington can clinch Metropolitan Division with win, Islanders loss; Florida eyeing first sweep of season series

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

CAPITALS (47-24-8) at PANTHERS (35-32-12)



The Game

The Washington Capitals can clinch the Metropolitan Division for the fourth consecutive season when they play the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center on Monday.

The Capitals, who have won four straight games, can win the division with a victory of any kind and a regulation loss by the New York Islanders against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nassau Coliseum.

Florida, which has been eliminated from playoff contention, will begin a season-ending three-game homestand. The Panthers are 2-0-0 against the Capitals this season and can sweep the season series for the first time. Florida won 6-5 in a shootout Oct. 19 and 5-4 in overtime Feb. 9; each game was played at Capital One Arena.


Players to watch

Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists) in his past 22 games.

Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov has 23 points (six goals, 17 assists) in the past 13 games and needs three points to tie Pavel Bure's single-season Florida record of 94 points in 1999-2000.


They said it

"We're on the right road right now. We're trending to playing our best hockey maybe of the year. That's kind of our goal." -- Capitals defenseman John Carlson

"The biggest thing is going out, playing hard these last three games. Everyone is fighting for a reason. Anytime you put on an NHL jersey you've got to prove yourself." -- Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- Tom Wilson

Carl Hagelin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- T.J. Oshie

Jakub Vrana -- Lars Eller -- Brett Connolly

Andre Burakovsky -- Nic Dowd -- Chandler Stephenson

Matt Niskanen -- Dmitry Orlov

Christian Djoos -- John Carlson

Nick Jensen -- Brooks Orpik

Pheonix Copley

Braden Holtby

Scratched: Dmitrij Jaskin, Jonas Siegenthaler, Travis Boyd

Injured: Michal Kempny (lower body)


Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Evgenii Dadonov

Mike Hoffman -- Vincent Trocheck -- Jayce Hawryluk

Frank Vatrano -- Riley Sheahan -- Troy Brouwer

Dryden Hunt -- Henrik Borgstrom -- Colton Sceviour

Mike Matheson -- Aaron Ekblad

Keith Yandle -- MacKenzie Weegar

Mark Pysyk -- Josh Brown

Roberto Luongo

Sam Montembeault

Scratched: Jamie McGinn, Denis Malgin, Ian McCoshen, Brady Keeper, James Reimer

Injured: Derek MacKenzie (shoulder)


Status report

Connolly will play after sitting out a 6-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday because of illness. … Copley will make his first start since March 19. … Luongo will make a third consecutive start as the Panthers will use the same lineup as they did for their 4-1 win against the Boston Bruins on Saturday.


Stat pack

Ovechkin needs one power-play goal to pass Luc Robitaille (247) for fourth in NHL history. … The line of Barkov (six goals, 17 assists), Huberdeau (nine goals, 14 assists) and Dadonov (six goals, 13 assists) has 65 points (21 goals, 44 assists) in the past 13 games.

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