Playing against a division rival, games are worth four points. For the Washington Capitals, a win over the Southeast Division-leading Florida Panthers would mean cutting their five-point deficit to three points. That didn't happen, though.
The Panthers pounced early and often, scoring three unanswered goals to start the game and holding on for a 5-4 victory over the Caps, extending their division lead to seven points.
Stephen Weiss scored twice for Florida, while Mike Santorelli, Sean Bergenheim and Dmitry Kulikov added goals of their own. Mike Knuble, Cody Eakin, Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera scored for Washington, who cut a 5-2 deficit to 5-4 late in the third period thanks to Chimera's deflection goal, but could not tie the game with Michal Neuvirth pulled in favor of an extra attacker.
The Caps had over 30 shots for the second straight game after only having 36 total in their first two games under Dale Hunter. The Panthers had 30 shots and Michal Neuvirth only stopped 25 of them.
Washington returns to action Wednesday against the team they beat Saturday at Verizon Center, the Ottawa Senators.