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Panthers Pound Capitals in 6-3 Victory

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

Cats sit just eight points out of eighth playoff spot

Post-game recap:
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -Jozef Stumpel and Martin Gelinas each scored two goals Thursday night, lifting the Florida Panthers to a 6-3 victory over the Washington Capitals.

Ville Peltonen and Juraj Kolnik also scored for the Panthers, 7-1-2 in their last 10 home games.

Chris Clark, Alex Ovechkin and Dainius Zubrus scored for Washington, 2-7 in its last nine. Ovechkin scored for the fourth consecutive game and extended his point streak to 13 games, the longest in the NHL this season. He leads the league with 33 goals.

The Panthers beat Washington for the third time in 19 days.

Ed Belfour stopped 27 shots and improved to 20-6-2 against Washington. Olie Kolzig made 26 saves for the Capitals.

Stumpel opened the scoring at 1:17 when he backhanded in a long rebound from the slot.

His second goal came on the power play at 8:14 of the second and gave Florida a 4-1 lead. After Ruslan Salei's slap shot from the point went off the post and hit the back of Kolzig's leg, Stumpel retrieved the puck from behind the goal line and flipped it over the Washington goalie.

Stumpel came close to recording his first hat trick since Feb. 3, 1998, when he took a cross-ice pass near the net. Kolzig denied him with a sliding save.

Washington trailed 5-1 after two periods before Ovechkin and Zubrus scored. Gelinas stopped the Capitals' rally when he tipped in Stephen Weiss' wrist shot on the power play.

Notes: Weiss' assist on Gelinas' first goal was his 100th NHL point. ... The Capitals dropped to 2-17-3 when trailing after one period. ... Florida LW Gary Roberts missed his 11th consecutive game because of a hip injury. ... Kolzig was called for two penalties, one for unsportsmanlike conduct and one for roughing.

Jesse Agler's 2nd intermission report:

Panthers killed off the final 1:25 of the Booth penalty to get the 2nd period off to a nice start. Out of the box, Booth even had a nice
opportunity in front of Kolzig but was stopped by the Washington goaltender. The euphoria of the kill didn't last long, though, as Anthony Stewart is called for hooking following a turnover in front of Ed Belfour. Already the fifth minor of the night on the Cats. With 51 seconds left in the penalty, Ruslan Salei gets called for the sixth--a hold, and now a 5-on-3 for Washington. A great clear by Jozef Stumpel, batting the puck out of the air not once, but twice, finished off the Stewart penalty. Cats continued to press once they got the puck out of the zone, killed off the remainder of Salei's penalty, and then capped it all off as Juraj Kolnik made a great play in back of the net, passed to Ville Peltonen, who netted his ninth goal of the season to reextend the lead--3-1. What a great way to respond to the penalties--kill off a 5-on-3 and then score almost as soon as you get five guys back.

Panthers get a chance to go a man-up when Steve Eminger is called for interference, and then with 50 seconds left on that penalty, Jamie Heward is
hit with a hooking call and now its the Panthers turn to go 5-on-3. Salei hit the post from short range and Stumpel was there to collect the rebound, wait for Kolzig to be out of position, and scored his second goal of the night. Still 1:19 left on the Heward penalty, and then just for some icing on the cake, Kolzig is called for an unsportsmanlike penalty after breaking his stick over the crossbar and shooting the puck all the way down the ice, giving the Cats ANOTHER 5-on-3. Panthers don't score with two extra men, but
still plenty of power play time to try and add another goal.

The Kolzig penalty expired without another Panther goal, but the Cats have a 4-1 lead now more than halfway through the game. Make it 5-1, as Olesz, Stumpel, and Kolnik combine for another score--Kolnik's sixth of the year. Caps' coach Glen Hanlon is keeping Olie the Goalie in the game, but I would be very, very surprised if backup Brent Johnson didn't come out to start the
third period, unless maybe Washington gets a couple of quick goals here in the second. Stumpel gets an assist on the goal, his third point of the

With just under four minutes left, Panthers made their first mistake in a long time, as Ed Belfour got caught in the corner, realized he couldn't
touch the puck, and tried to shield a Washington player away. This lead to the very rare, but moderately entertaining interference call on the
goaltender. Not interfering WITH the goaltender, but rather the goalie being called for interference. Cats kill the penalty off pretty easily and as the period winds to a close, the Cats will head to the dressing room with a 5-1
lead after striking for three goals in the second period. I'll be back with more after the game, here's to the Panthers finishing what they have so
dominantly started...


Jesse Agler's 1st intermission report:

Didn't take long for the Cats to get it going tonight--Jozef Stumpel carried the puck into the zone and made a gorgeous pass to Rostislav Olesz who's shot was stopped by Olie Kolzig. Stumpel pounced on the rebound, however, and slid it home to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead just 1:17 into the game. Kolzig must be sweating early, knowing that in the last two games he has played against the Panthers he has faced more than 90 shots and now, less than 90 seconds in, his team trails.

At 5:38, Panther defenseman Bryan Allen is called for roughing when he caught a Capital up high with the glove while trying to ride him off the
puck. Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, the Panthers had plenty of troubles, but staying out of the box was a major issue, especially in the second period, so let's hope that the Allen penalty is not a sign of things to come. As for this penalty, the Cats killed it off pretty easily, allowing Washington a limited number of chances and even sending Olesz on a bit of a break right
when the penalty expired.

With about seven minutes left, David Booth made a great steal to take the puck off of Alexander Semin's stick and came in on a break. While his shot was stopped by Kolzig, Semin hooked him, and the Panthers get to show off their seventh ranked power play for the first time tonight. The first minute of the PP went by awfully quickly, as the Cats couldn't even get set up. After some patient passing, though, they did get set, and Stephen Weiss pushed a perfect pass to Martin Gelinas who one-timed it top shelf past Kolzig for his seventh goal of the year. 2-0 Panthers now, and the Cats are looking for more.

Chris Gratton and Jamie Heward got tied up with about five minutes left--each is sent off, and we'll have 4-on-4 hockey for the next couple of
minutes. Well, that ends up being a lie. Weiss gets called for hooking and so, 11 seconds of 4-on-3, and then some 5-on-4 for Washington. The penalty proves to be costly, as Ed Belfour made a couple of really nice saves, though he didn't squeeze the last one and it trickled through to cut the lead to 2-1 with under two minutes left in the period. More bad news, though, as David Booth is called for slashing in the neutral zone giving the Caps a power play that will carry over into the second period for 1:25. 2-1 after one, I'll be back after the second period with more.


Jesse Agler's pre-game blog:

Panthers and the Washington Capitals meet tonight for the fifth of eight times this season. Cats and Caps have split the previous four games, Washington taking the first two, and the Panthers the previous pair--on January 13th here in Sunrise and on January 20th up in DC, the final game before the All-Star Break. In both wins, just a couple of weeks ago, the Panthers dominated Washington in the shots department, combining to fire 95 times at the Capital net, while the Caps themselves sent just 35 shots on goal. The scores were pretty lopsided as well, 7-3 and 4-1.

Certainly if the Panthers want to continue to pull themselves into the playoff conversation, they'll need to take care of business against teams, like the Capitals, that are directly in front of them in the conference (and in this case, divisional) standings. Caps have a one point edge on the Panthers, and so, with a win, Florida can find itself out of fifth place in the Southeast and looking down at another team in the Eastern Conference.

Not to say it will come easy. Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and the rest of the boys from DC are tough to handle, but with game number 53 being played tonight--the Cats haven't much time to waste.

We'll be on the air with the radio broadcast beginning at 7 tonight with Panther Preview driven by JM Lexus. Game time is, as always, 7:30 from BankAtlantic Center. If you haven't seen Ovechkin and Co. yet, I recommend coming out--tonight and March 30th will be their final two games in Sunrise this season. Hope to see you there. If not, enjoy the game, and I'll be back after the first period to share my thoughts on the first 20 minutes.


Tonight's Game Notes:

TODAY'S GAME: The Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals meet tonight for the fifth time this season. Florida is coming off of a 3-0 loss in Pittsburgh while the Capitals are coming off of a 3-2 loss in Ottawa Tuesday night. Tonight will be the third meeting between these two teams in 19 days. After tonight, the Panthers will host the Los Angeles Kings Saturday night at the BankAtlantic Center before heading out west to play Colorado on Tuesday and Minnesota next Thursday.

PLAYING THE CAPITALS: Tonight marks the fifth of eight meetings between the Panthers and Capitals. Washington defeated the Cats 5-2 on Oct. 18 at the Verizon Center and 4-1 on Nov. 13 in Sunrise. Florida exploded for seven goals and a 7-3 win over the Caps on Jan. 13 at the BankAtlantic Center and a 4-1 win the following Saturday in Washington. The Cats picked up seven of a possible eight points at the BankAtlantic Center last season against the Caps. C Stephen Weiss recorded his first career hat-trick against the Capitals on Jan. 13.

CONTROLLING OWN DESTINY: The Panthers will have many more opportunities to make an immediate move up in the Eastern Conference standings. Florida will play Southeast division foes 14 more times included five games with Tampa Bay who currently holds the final playoff spot.

NEW ASSISTANT GM: Florida Panthers GM and head coach Jacques Martin announced Friday that he has hired former Ottawa Senators General Manager Randy Sexton as the Panthers new Assistant General Manager. Sexton spent the last three years as the Executive Director of Capital Sports Management Inc. (CSMI), a sister company to the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club. In December, 1990, Sexton was named the first CEO of the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club, one week after the NHL granted Terrace Investments a franchise and later became the team's General Manager.

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER: As the unofficial second half of the season begins, the Florida Panthers official begin a stretch of nine consecutive Saturday home games. From tonight until March 24, the Panthers will be at the BankAtlantic Center every Saturday night. Florida has won games each of the last three Saturday's and have won four of the last five times overall when playing a game on Saturday.

OUTSHOOTING THE OPPONENT: Florida's defense has held its opponent to under 20 shots on goal in three of its last six games. The Cats held Washington to 17 shots on Jan. 13 and 18 shots on Jan. 20. Florida held Toronto to only 19 shots on Jan. 18. Meanwhile, the Panthers recorded a franchise-high 55 shots against Washington on Jan. 13 and 42 shots at Washington on Jan. 20. Florida had 41 shots on goal against Toronto on Jan. 18 and 32 Saturday night against New Jersey. Overall, the Cats are averaging 38 shots on goal per game since Jan. 13, a span of five games.

SOLID IN NET: Panthers G Ed Belfour has been strong between the pipes over the Cats last 13 games. Belfour has started in nine of those 13 games and appeared in 10 with a record of 5-2-2. He has a GAA over that time period of 2.22 and a save percentage of .914. In five of his past eight starts, Belfour has recorded 22 or more saves.

OLESZ SCORES, PANTHERS WIN: Panthers LW Rostislav Olesz has scored in eight different games this season and has 10 total goals. In all eight games in which he has scored, the Panthers have picked up at least one point. Overall, Florida is 7-0-1 in games which Olesz scores. The Panthers first round pick in the 2004 draft scored two goals in Saturday's win over New Jersey and also had a two-goal game on Jan. 4 in Calgary. Olesz scored a point in four consecutive games from Dec. 14 - 21 and scored a goal in all three games during the Cats three-game win streak that week. When Olesz records a point, Florida is 10-1-3.

GAME-WINNER: D Joel Kwiatkowski scored the GWG in the Panthers 4-2 win over New Jersey Saturday night. It was Kwiatkowski's second GWG of the season which is a career-best for the Kindersley, Saskatchewan native. Kwiatkowski also scored the GWG on Nov. 2 against Toronto. His five goals on the season are now only one off his career-high which he set in Washington during the 2003-04 season.

SPECIALTY TEAMS SUCCESS: The Panthers power play and penalty killing units rank among the top in the NHL. Florida's power play has been in the top 10 all season long. The Cats C Jozef Stumpel is racking up the points on the power play this season. Stumpel now has 20 power play points (5-15-20). C Olli Jokinen has 15 power play points (7-8-15). Also, the Cats C Stephen Weiss has scored six PPG and five PP assists this season. D Ruslan Salei leads all Cats defensemen with 16 PP points (1-15-16).

NHL RANKINGS (as of 1/31/07)


4. Pittsburgh 58-294 19.7% 9. Ottawa 40-254 84.2%

5. Toronto 53-269 19.7% 10. San Jose 34-214 84.1%

6. Boston 48-248 19.3% 11. Carolina 44-274 83.9%

7. Colorado 45-241 18.7% 12. Dallas 44-268 83.6%

8. Florida 42-225 18.7% 13. Florida 48-287 83.3%

CAPTAIN LEADING THE WAY: Panthers captain C Olli Jokinen had a seven game point streak from Jan. 2 - Jan. 16 The Cats capitan now has 22 goals on the season and leads the team with 52 points (22-30-52). The two-point performace against Carolina on Jan. 16 marked Jokinen's 16th multi-point game this season and seventh multi-point game in the Panthers last 16 games, a stretch in which Florida is 8-4-4. The Panthers leader scored his 150th career goal on Dec. 23 against Carolina and recorded his 300th point as a Panther on Jan. 7 in Vancouver.

Olli's Hat-trick: On Jan. 10 against Pittsburgh, Jokinen recorded his second hat trick of the season and third of his career.

League Leader: Jokinen's 52 points on the season is the 17th highest total in the NHL. The 239 shots Jokinen has put on goal this season are is the second highest total in the league. The Kuopio, Finaldn native has four GWG on the season which is among the NHL's best and his 22 goals rank him in the Top-20 in the NHL..

A GOALIE'S BEST FRIEND: Florida's defense has given Panthers G Ed Belfour three games this season with little work. Jan. 20 against Washington, the Cats defense held the Caps to only 18 shots on goal and one week prior Florida held the Cats to only 17 shots on goal. It was the second lowest shot total against Florida this season. The Panthers held Buffalo to a season-low 16 shots on goal on Dec. 14 and Dec. 16, Florida held Boston to 21 shots on goal. Dec. 26 against Carolina, the Cats held the Hurricanes to only 17 shots in 65 minutes.

CLOSE GAMES: The Panthers have played 52 games this season, and 35 of them have been decided by 2 goals or less. Almost half of the Panthers first 51 games have been decided by one goal. In all 21 games have been decided by one goal with the Cats going 5-6-10 in those games.

LIGHTING THE LAMP: 12 different Panthers have scored a goal in the month. Six different Panthers scored goals during the Cats brief two-game winning streak to end the 2006 calender year. LW Rostislav Olesz, C Jozef Stumpel and D Mike Van Ryn scored goals Dec. 27 against Philadelphia in the Panthers 3-1 win. On Dec. 29, LW Ville Peltonen, RW Nathan Horton and LW Gregory Campbell all scored in the panthers 3-1 win over Montreal. In Edmonton on Jan. 2, C Olli Jokinen scored for the Cats and Thursday night in Calgary D Jay Bouwmeester joined the scoring party, and LW David Booth recorded his first NHL goal. Wednesday night against Pittsburgh, LW Martin Gelinas joined the scoring party, picking up his fourth goal of the season and Thursday night RW Juraj Kolnik scored the first Panthers goal at Carolina. Saturday night against Washington, C Chris Gratton became the 12th different Panther to score in the last month.

Spreading the Points Around Too: In the Cats 7-3 win over Washington on Jan. 13, 12 different Panthers scored at least one point. It was the second time in three weeks the Cats had a game with nine or more players picking up a point. Against the Canadiens on Dec. 28, nine different Panthers recorded a point with three different goal scorers and six different players recieving a point for an assist. Overall, 12 different Panthers players recorded at least one point in the previous the final two games of 2006.

SHUTOUT: With his next shutout, G Ed Belfour will tie Tony Esposito for eighth on the All-time shutout list with 76 career shutouts.

COMFORTABLE AT HOME: Cats C Olli Jokinen is is tied for fourth in the entire NHL in points scored at home. Jokinen has 34 points in 24 games played at the BankAtlantic Center this season (16-18-34).

HOME COOKIN': The Panthers are almost unbeatable at home over the past month. Since December 21, a span of nine home games, the Panthers are 6-1-2, including back-to-back home games with a hat-trick (Jokinen on 1/10 and Weiss on 1/13).

WELCOME TO THE NHL: Many players from the Rochester Americans (AHL) have made the trip from Rochester, NY to South Florida. In all, seven players from Rochester have been called up this season. C David Booth made his NHL debut Nov. 20 at Boston. He has played 11 games wiith the Cats, recording one goal and three assists. C Drew Larman has been called up three times, the most recent on Nov. 30. at Ottawa. Larman made his NHL debut Nov. 13 against Washington and scored his first career NHL goal on Nov. 24 against Ottawa. He added his second goal Dec. 12 at Anaheim. C Greg Jacina was called up during November and C Rob Globke was called up Nov. 28. C Janis Sprukts was the first Rochester call-up this season in October. He has been called up three times this season. RW Anthony Stewart became the sixth Amerks players to suit up from the Panthers this season when he was called up in December. He has been recalled twice. On Jan. 6, Florida called up C Kamil Kreps. He is the seventh Rochester player to wear a Panthers jersey this season and he becomes the fourth different prospect to make his NHL debut with Florida this season.
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