Washington Capitals at Florida Panthers - Game 57 Preview

Florida: 27-18-11 (65PTS)
Washington: 28-23-5 (61PTS)
Season Series: 2-2-0
Game Time: 7:30 PM EST
Television: Fox Sports Florida, Comcast SportsNet
Radio: 560 WQAM

The Panthers hold the Southeast Division lead by four points as the second place Washington Capitals make their final visit to Sunrise this season. The Panthers are third in the Eastern Conference by virtue of leading the division, while the Capitals are sitting in ninth place, one place out of a playoff spot and three points behind the eighth-place Toronto Maple Leafs. The Panthers need a win tonight to keep their distance from the Capitals while the Capitals need the win not only to catch up to the Leafs and Panthers, but to stay ahead of the Winnipeg Jets, who are one point back in tenth place. The teams have split the games this season, with Tomas Vokoun getting two shutout wins in Washington and Scott Clemmensen picking up two wins in Sunrise. The Panthers will need a better effort than they showed in the second period against Ottawa on Wednesday night if they want to extend their division lead.

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 Panthers lost 4-0 to the Capitals in Washington on February 7.

Last game

The Panthers lost 6-2 to the Ottawa Senators in an ugly game on Wednesday night.

Lineup

Krys Barch will play tonight in place of John Madden, who is expected to miss two weeks with an unknown injury. No other lineup changes are expected.

Injuries

Starting goaltenders:

Jose Theodore will start tonight for the Panthers opposite Tomas Vokoun for the Capitals. Theodore is 7-8-1-0 with a 2.52 GAA and a .901 save percentage against the Caps. Tonight will be his first game played against the Capitals since spending the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons in Washington. Tomas Vokoun has been perfect against his former team this year, with two shutouts in two games played while Michal Neuvirth is 0-2-0 with a 4.07 GAA against the Cats this season. Vokoun starts his first game in Sunrise not as a member of the Panthers since a 2002 3-2 victory when he was with the Nashville Predators.

Lines

Forwards
  1. Fleischmann-Weiss-Versteeg
  2. Bergenheim-Goc-Samuelsson
  3. Kopecky-Matthias-Bradley
  4. Barch-Santorelli-Skille
Defense
  1. Campbell-Gudbranson
  2. Weaver-Ellerby
  3. Strachan-Robak
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