LBC GameDay Preview: Florida Panthers host Washington Capitals

Joel Auerbach

The Panthers, sans Tim Thomas, go for two in a row tonight at the BB&T Center.

Tonight at 7:30 PM, the Panthers will do battle with the league's leading sniper Alexander Ovechkin and former Southeast Division foe, the Washington Capitals at the BB&T Center. This is the second of three meetings this season between the teams.

The Capitals bested the visiting Cats 3-2 in a shootout back on November 2nd, so the Panthers will be looking for a measure of revenge. Jesse Winchester and Tomas Fleischmann were the Florida scorers, while Niklas Backstrom and John Carlson tallied for the Caps. Backstrom provided the decisive goal in the skills competition. Michal Neuvirth posted the win, and Scott Clemmensen took the loss.

Florida will be closing out a two-game homestand that started off nicely with Tuesday night's 3-2 comeback win in a shootout over the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings took a 2-0 lead on goals from Todd Bertuzzi and Pavel Datsyuk before the Cats rallied in the third period with Sean Bergenheim and Nick Bjugstad doing the scoring honors. Brad Boyes notched the decider in the shootout. Tim Thomas made 24 saves to get the win, while Jimmy Howard got tagged with the loss.

The red-hot Capitals have taken five of their last six and enter the game winners of three straight. They're coming off a 6-5 shootout victory over the Tampa Bay Lighting on home ice on Tuesday night. Before that, they defeated the Nashville Predators and New York Rangers. The Caps will return to the District to begin a home-and-home with the Philadelphia Flyers after departing balmy Sunrise.

Tim Thomas was injured in practice yesterday and did not take part in the morning skate. He will miss tonight's game, but will travel with the club on its upcoming Canadian road trip. Jacob Markstrom was recalled from the Rampage last night to backup Scott Clemmensen. The veteran had a pretty rough go of it in his last outing versus the Blackhawks, so hopefully he will be sharper now that he got some game action in. The Cats D will have to do a much better of supporting him then they did in Chicago. Washington will counter with rookie Philipp Grubauer.

Join us on the LBC GameThread at 7:00 tonight. For more on the Caps, visit our pals over at Japers' Rink.

GameTime: 7:30 PM

Season Series: Second of three contests. Washington took the first one in a shootout in early November.

All-Time Series: Florida is 43-49-9-8 all-time versus the Capitals, a .472 points percentage.

Standings

Florida Panthers: 10-17-5, 25 points, .390, on pace for 64 points. Seventh in the Atlantic Division, 14th in the Eastern Conference, 28th in the NHL. Last five: L-W-W-L-W.

Washington Capitals: 17-12-2, 36 points, .580, on pace for 95 points, Second in the Metropolitan Division, Sixth in the Eastern Conference, 15th in the NHL. Last five: W-L-W-W-W.

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