The phrase "must-win game" is thrown around a lot in professional sports, but one could argue that Wednesday's game between the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers was one. With a win, the Caps would pad their lead in the Southeast Division to three points, while a Panthers win would give them the division lead. In Sunrise Wednesday, Florida was the one that ran off into the sunset with a 4-2 win and the Southeast Division lead.
Mikael Samuelsson scored twice for the Panthers, including the game-winning goal on the power play in the third period. Stephen Weiss gave Florida a 3-1 lead at 9:52 of the third when he knocked the puck into the net with his shoulder as he was falling. The referee originally signaled for no goal, but after a review, it was overturned.
John Carlson cut the deficit in half with just over two minutes left, but Shawn Matthias' empty-net goal sealed the victory for Florida.
Brooks Laich scored the other goal for Washington, who with the loss, fell into ninth place in the Eastern Conference. The Caps finished 1-1-1 without Alex Ovechkin during his three-game suspension. He returns to the lineup Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens.