April 5, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) scores a goal on Florida Panthers goalie Jose Theodore (60) in the second period at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Panthers Vs. Capitals: Florida Falls 4-2, But Clinches Playoff Berth With Buffalo Loss

The Florida Panthers clinched a playoff berth on Thursday night, but the Southeast Division and the No. 3 seed is still up for grabs after a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals.

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NHL Playoffs Schedule And Bracket 2012: Panthers Vs. Devils Starts April 13

The Florida Pantherswon the Southeast Division, earning the Eastern Conference's #3 seed in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They will face the number six seed, the New Jersey Devils. In four regular season games against the Devils the Panthers won two, and had one regulation loss and one shootout loss. Although New Jersey finished with eight more points than Florida in the regular season (102 to the Panthers' 94), Florida gets home-ice advantage because of their division title. It is the Panthers' first postseason appearance since 2000, ending the longest playoffs-less streak in the NHL.

Things get started on Friday, April 13 at 7:00 p.m. The full schedule is:

- Friday, April 13, 7:00 pm: at Florida - NHL Network, TSN
- Sunday, April 15, 7:30 pm: at Florida - NBC Sports Network, TSN
- Tuesday, April 17, 7:00 pm: at New Jersey - NHL Network, TSN
- Thursday, April 19, 7:00 pm: at New Jersey - NHL Network, TSN
- Saturday, April 21, 6:30 pm (if necessary): at Florida - NHL Network, TSN
- Tuesday, April 24, time TBD (if necessary): at New Jersey - Network TBD
- Thursday, April 26, time TBD (if necessary): at Florida - Network TBD

For all your Panthers needs, check out Litter Box Cats. If you're for the Devils, check out In Lou We Trust. All your NHL scores and news can be found at SB Nation's main hockey hub, and don't forget to check out SB Nation on YouTube:

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Panthers Vs. Capitals Recap: Florida Falls 4-2 In Washington, But Clinches Playoff Berth

Despite a 4-2 loss at Verizon Center in Washington, the Florida Panthers are heading to the playoffs for the first time since 2000. The Buffalo Sabres' 2-1 loss to Philadelphia assures both the Capitals and Panthers a playoff berth. But the loss still opens the door for the Caps to swoop in and claim the the Southeast Division and home ice as the #3 seed.

The Capitals jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but Florida did not go down without a fight. After Alexander Ovechkin and Brooks Laich extended the lead to three, Mikael Samuelsson ended the shutout with his 13th goal of the year in the second period. Samuelsson ripped a shot from the left wing that beat Braden Holtby to cut Washington's lead to 3-1.

Ed Jovanovski would then put the Cats down just one, less than a minute into the third period. Jovanovski fired a shot from the top of the slot that sliced through the traffic in front of Holtby and into the net. It was his only third goal of the year. But the Caps would hold off the Panthers throughout the third period, and Alexander Semin would score a game-clinching goal with a minute to play.

With one game remaining, the Caps could steal the division with a Panthers loss to Carolina and a Washington win over the Rangers on Saturday.

For more on this game and all things Capitals hockey, please head over to Japers' Rink. For a view from the other bench, check out Litter Box Cats, SB Nation's Florida Panthers blog. You can also head over to the SB Nation NHL hub page for more on this and every NHL game.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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Florida Panthers Visit Washington Capitals: Game 81 Preview

Florida has another chance to clinch a playoff berth, a division title, and seriously damage the Capitals postseason chances in the process.

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