WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 07: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammates after scoring in the first period against the Florida Panthers at the Verizon Center on February 7, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Panthers Vs. Capitals: Caps Blank Cats 4-0, Retake Southeast Division Lead

Alex Ovechkin scores two goals as Capitals roll to win.

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Panthers Vs. Capitals Recap: Washington Takes First Place In Division Behind Tomas Vokoun Shutout And Alex Ovechkin Two-Goal Game

The Washington Capitals took possession of first place in the Southeast Division on Monday night with a 4-0 shutout victory over the Florida Panthers. It was a dominating performance for Dale Hunter's club. The Caps were badly outshot 42-24 but goalie Tomas Vokoun was there to stuff every shot that came his way, getting his second shutout against his old team this season.

Alex Ovechkin had his 67th career multi-goal game. Ovechkin gave Washington a two-goal lead at the end of the first, scoring on the power play after a Marcel Goc penalty. Ovie then scored on a highlight-reel wrist shot from the center that beat Scott Clemmensen over the right shoulder. It was a nasty unassisted goal that gave the captain his first multi-goal game of the season.

The Caps killed off two penalties in the third period and Vokoun stood tall in net to keep it at 4-0 and take a one-point lead in the division. An injured Brooks Laich finished with nine and a half minutes of ice time, limiting his minutes in the third. The Caps now host another division foe in Winnipeg on Thursday.

For more news, analysis, and discussion on the Capitals, visit Japers' Rink, SB Nation's Caps blog. For the opponent's perspective, visit Litter Box Cats. For all your hockey news, visit SB Nation's NHL news hub.


Panthers Vs. Capitals: Alex Ovechkin's Second Goal Gives Caps 4-0 Lead

It is a vintage night in Washington.

Alex Ovechkin's second goal of the game has given the Capitals a 4-0 lead over the Florida Panthers after 40 minutes.

Jason Chimera's 15th goal of the season and first since January 11 came just 1:01 into the period on a shorthanded chance. A turnover by the Panthers gave the Caps an odd-man rush. Matt Hendricks dropped the puck to John Carlson, who sent a centering pass to a cutting Chimera. Scott Clemmensen made the initial save, but left the rebound in the crease. Chimera just poked in the loose puck to give Washington its second shorthanded goal of the season, both of which have been scored by him.

Ovechkin's second goal of the game was of the highlight-reel variety. After Florida failed to clear the puck, Ovechkin cut to the middle and fired a floating wrist shot that beat Clemmensen top shelf. Ovechkin's 21st goal of the season gave him five two-goal games this season.

The Caps are being outshot 27-18, but Tomas Vokoun has stopped every shot that has come his way so far.


Panthers Vs. Capitals: Washington Grabs Early 2-0 Lead Over Florida

Washington Capitals head coach Dale Hunter called Tuesday's game against the Florida Panthers a "playoff" game. The Caps are playing like it.

Mathieu Perreault and Alex Ovechkin's goals have given Washington a 2-0 lead over Florida after 20 minutes.

Perreault's goal was Washington's fastest to open a game this season. After the opening faceoff, Jason Chimera took the puck below the goal line before sending a backhanded centering pass towards Perreault. The pass leaked through two Panthers defenders and found Perreault, whose wrist shot beat Scott Clemmensen to give the Caps a 1-0 lead. It was Perreault's ninth goal of the season and fifth in his last six games.

Ovechkin made it 2-0 at 9:21 with a rare power play goal. Ovechkin took a pass from Dennis Wideman and successfully completed his patented move - a drive down the left boards, a cut to the inside and a wrist shot - for his 21st goal of the season.

Florida, however, did not back down as they had several quality scoring chances in the second half of the period, but former Panther Tomas Vokoun made 10 saves to keep the Caps in the lead.


Capitals Vs. Panthers: Game Time, TV Schedule, And More

The Washington Capitals have had a rough go of things lately, but maybe some home-cooking and a matchup with a division rival Florida Panthers. The Panthers have been a very competitive team this year, so I wouldn't expect them to just roll over and let the Capitals get back on track.

Here is allt eh information you need to find the game tonight.

Game Date/Time: Tuesday, February 7, 7 p.m. ET

Location: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.


Radio: Capitals Radio 1500

We'll have plenty more on this game on SB Nation D.C., so keep it locked to this StoryStream for the latest news. For more on the Capitals, as always, please head over to Japers' Rink. For more from the other bench please check out Litter Box Cats, SB Nation's Florida Panthers blog. And for more on this and every NHL game, please head over to the SB Nation NHL hub page.


Brooks Laich Injury Update: Capitals Forward Feels Good, But Status Uncertain For Game Against Panthers

BALLSTON, Va. - Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich participated in Tuesday's morning skate and was noncommittal regarding his playing status, but hopes that he can play against the Florida Panthers after suffering a leg injury Sunday.

"I hope so," Laich said when asked if he would be in the lineup Tuesday. "I felt good on the ice. The decision isn't up to the players. You gotta try to convince [the coaching staff] sometimes, but hopefully. We'll see tonight."

Laich injured his left leg during the second period of Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins. After absorbing a check from Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg along the end boards, Laich crumpled to the ice and had to be helped off by teammates. He later attempted to skate during a television timeout shortly after, but ultimately left for the locker room and did not return.

Laich left Verizon Center Sunday with a knee brace on his left knee while walking with crutches (which he said was to "appease the minds of the trainers"), but said his medical evaluation Monday was "very positive."

"I didn't even really want to go, but the trainers' job sometimes is to protect you from yourself, so they insisted on it," Laich said. "Yesterday, I wanted to skate, but it felt okay. I'm not the one in charge, unfortunately, but today felt really good, woke up this morning and felt pretty good."

Head coach Dale Hunter, like Laich, was also noncommittal regarding Laich's status Tuesday. Yet, Jay Beagle remained on the ice for extra work, which could mean that Laich is indeed ready to play.

Meanwhile, Mike Green also skated Tuesday after taking three days off, according to a team spokesman.

Tomas Vokoun will start for Washington and will likely be opposed by Scott Clemmensen. Vokoun has not played in the last two meetings against his former team after earning a shutout in the team's first meeting in October.


Panthers Vs. Capitals: Washington Hosts Florida In Yet Another Pivotal Game

Last week, the Washington Capitals entered their game with the Florida Panthers with a one-point lead in the Southeast Division, one they ultimately yielded after a 4-2 loss. Tuesday, the Caps hope for the opposite as they face the Panthers once again at Verizon Center.

Washington is now one point behind Florida in the Southeast Division and a win would put it back in first in the division and third in the Eastern Conference, respectively. Entering play Monday, the idle Caps are on the outside looking in at the playoff race in ninth place.

The Caps were without Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green last week. Even though Ovechkin has returned from his three-game suspension, Brooks Laich may not play Tuesday after suffering a leg injury during Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins. Laich did not practice Monday and head coach Dale Hunter said Laich is "day-to-day." Laich has missed just four games since the start of the 2007-08 season.

Meanwhile, Florida is not immune to the injury bug. The Panthers are currently missing Jacob Markstrom (knee), Scottie Upshall (sports hernia), Ed Jovanovski (hand), Dmitry Kulikov (knee) and Marco Sturm (knee surgery). Scott Clemmensen, who defeated Washington last week in a 26-save performance, will likely start Tuesday.


Panthers Vs. Capitals: Brooks Laich 'Day-To-Day,' Status Uncertain For Panthers

Brooks Laich did not practice Monday and his status for Tuesday's game against the Panthers is uncertain.

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