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.
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