Washington Capitals at Florida Panthers - Game 49 Preview

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 5: Goaltender Scott Clemmensen #30 of the Florida Panthers defends the net against the Washington Capitals on December 5, 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Capitals 5-4. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Florida: 22-15-11 (55PTS)
Washington: 26-19-4 (56PTS)
Season Series: 1-1-0
Game Time: 8:00 PM EST
Television: Fox Sports Florida, CSN
Radio: 99.9 WKIS-FM

The Panthers woke up out of a playoff spot for the first time in a long time as the Capitals, Leafs and Devils have all passed them by and pushed them to ninth. Of course, third seed is only a point away in a weak Southeast Division this season. Two points will put the Panthers back ahead of the Capitals for the division lead, and the Panthers just happen to be playing those Capitals tonight. They'll be doing it without their leading scorer, Kris Versteeg, who has the flu and their starting goaltender, Jose Theodore, who is still having problems with an injured knee. There's no need to belabor the point that both teams desperately need a win tonight. The Caps will be without the services of one Alex Ovechkin, who is serving the last game of a three game suspension tonight. Please note the late start time. The game was pushed back to clear the blackout window from NBC Sports, who are broadcasting tonight's Rangers-Sabres game at 7:30.

More from our Washington cohorts at Japers' Rink.
Capitals vs Panthers coverage at SB Nation.
SB Nation Preview.
LBC Game Thread will open 30 minutes prior to puck drop.

News and Notes

Last meeting

The Cats beat the Caps 5-4 in Sunrise. Stephen Weiss had the game winning goal and Scott Clemmensen the win.

Last game

The Cats lost to the Flyers in a shootout on Tuesday. Claude Giroux had the lone shootout goal.

Lineup

A lot of bad news out of practice today. Jose Theodore is still having knee problems and will miss more time. Brian Foster has been recalled to replace him. Kris Versteeg is still down with the flu and will not play tonight. Scottie Upshall is still having issues related to a core injury and is having surgery. However, Marco Sturm is expected to return tonight and Jack Skille is expected to play this weekend.

Injuries

  • F Scottie Upshall (core), 2/1, 6 to 8 weeks
  • F Marco Sturm (concussion), unknown
  • G Jacob Markstrom (knee), 1/7, 4 to 6 weeks
  • D Ed Jovanovski (hand), 1/16, week to week
  • D Dmitry Kulikov (knee), 1/21, 6 to 8 weeks
  • G Jose Theodore (knee), 2/1, unknown

Probable Scratches

  • F Jack Skille (shoulder)
  • F Kris Versteeg (flu)

Starting goaltenders:

Scott Clemmensen will face off against Michael Neuvirth.

Lines

Forwards
  1. Fleischmann-Weiss-Kopecky
  2. Samuelsson-Goc-Bergenheim
  3. Matthias-Santorelli-Bradley
  4. Barch-Madden-Sturm
Defense
  1. Campbell-Garrison
  2. Strachan-Ellerby
  3. Gudbranson-Weaver
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