GAME: Washington Capitals (10-19-1-1) at Florida Panthers (10-15-6-1).
TIME: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
Robert Lang is having a tremendous season, and he just might be starting to
rub off on his teammates.
Lang will look to continue his scoring tear when the Washington Capitals
travel to Florida to play the Panthers.
Having played for four teams during his 11-year career, Lang appears to have
found a home in Washington as he leads the NHL in scoring with 17 goals and 40
points, one ahead of Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk.
Lang is well on his way to shattering his previous career high of 32 goals
and 80 points, set during the 2000-01 campaign with Pittsburgh. The 6-foot-2,
217-pound center had two goals and two assists Tuesday as the Capitals ripped
The Capitals, who improved to 2-1 under new coach Glen Hanlon, entered the
game having scored more than two goals just 10 times in 30 games.
"I think everybody's excited. New system. Everybody's sort of like
rejuvenated," Lang said. "Tonight was just one of those nights. Everybody
wanted to win and wanted to be part of it."
Lang has recorded at least one point in 20 of his last 22 games, including a
16-game point streak from Oct. 31-Dec. 2.
As great as Lang was Tuesday, goaltender Maxime Ouellet may have been
better. Playing in his first NHL game since 2000 and making just his second
career start, Ouellet stopped 37 shots for his first career shutout.
The Panthers are just 1-2-2-1 in December, including a 4-1 loss to Detroit
Rookie defenseman Lukas Krajicek, Florida's first pick in the 2001 draft,
will be looking to make amends for a miserable game.
With the score tied at 1 in the second period, Krajicek, Florida's first
pick in the 2001 draft, skated in front of his own net with the puck, but
Detroit's Kirk Maltby knocked it off of the Florida defenseman's stick and past
goaltender Roberto Luongo.
Luongo defended the 20-year-old Czech defenseman, who finished the game a
miserable minus-3 despite scoring the Panthers' lone goal.
"Those things happen. He's a young guy," Luongo said. "Hopefully, he
learned his lesson. He's got to keep his head up and learn from it. That's all
he can do."
The Panthers were outshot 39-22 and were short-handed six times.
"You can't kill that many penalties," Florida coach Rick Dudley said. "It
was one after another. Guys get worn out. For two periods, we were a pretty
good hockey team."