Game Day Preview: Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals
Florida: 29-38-12 (70PTS)
Washington: 47-22-11 (105PTS)
Season Series: 2-1-1
Race to the Bottom: 30 EDM (61), 29 COL (66), 28 FLA (70), 27 OTT (72), 26 NYI (72)
Record before and after the trade deadline: 26-29-7 (59PTS) .476 / 3-10-5 (11PTS) .305
Against all odds, at least two of the Panthers' last three games this season have meaning for the playoff races. The next-to-last road game for the Panthers is tonight in DC when the Washington Capitals host the first of two matchups between the teams this week. The Southeast Division leading Caps currently have a two-point lead on the Philadelphia Flyers to hold the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have two games left. The Flyers play in Buffalo on Friday and host the New York Islanders on Saturday and the Capitals play home and road games against the Panthers. If Pittsburgh loses one of its two last games, against the Islanders and Atlanta Thrashers, then the results of Friday's Panthers-Lightning game could also have playoff implications.
Last meeting: The Caps edged the Cats, winning 3-2 in overtime on March 6 in Florida.
Last game: The Panthers came up against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, losing 4-2 at home.
Notes: Tomas Vokoun's back has settled down and so Tyler Plante has returned to Rochester. Tim Kennedy has now passed through re-entry waivers and will replace Stephen Weiss in the lineup.
Injuries: Stephen Weiss, groin, day to day (4/2/2011). Alexander Sulzer, groin, day to day (3/29/2011). Shawn Matthias, ankle, day to day (3/25/2011). Scott Timmins, concussion, unknown (3/10/2011). Rostislav Olesz, knee, out for the season (2/25/2011). Byron Bitz (IR), sports hernia, out for the season.
Starting goaltenders: Scott Clemmensen will once again be starting tonight for the Panthers while Semyon Varlamov is expected to start for the Capitals. Clemmensen is 0-1-1 with 52 saves, a 3.02 GAA and an .885 save percentage in two starts against Washington this season. Varlamov is 1-1-0 with 59 saves, a 2.50 GAA and .915 save percentage against the Cats.
Samsonov - Reasoner - Bergfors
Booth - Santorelli - Skille
Dadonov - Kennedy - Repik
Hordichuk - Carter - Bernier
Once again Stephen Weiss will miss the game and that usually means a Panthers loss. The Capitals are on a three-game win streak and will be looking to increase their points lead on the Flyers. Of the two games, the Panthers are more likely to win at home on Saturday than tonight. However, both teams will be trying to get an edge in the season series, which is tied, with both teams having two wins, a loss and an overtime loss.
More from our Washington cohorts at Japers' Rink.