Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Florida Panthers had two goals Tuesday night, beat the Washington Capitals and stay in first place in the Southeast Division. The only problem is they couldn’t do either one of them.
The Capitals, powered by two goals from captain Alex Ovechkin, easily defeated the Panthers 4-0.
The shutout victory by the Caps propelled them to first-place in the Southeast Division and knocked the Cats out of the playoff picture as of Wednesday.
The Caps rode former Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun who stopped 42 shots in the game to preserve the shutout.
“We knew what was on the line tonight,” Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. “These are four-point games, playoff games, and we’re battling with Florida.”
Both the Capitals and Panthers are in a must-win situation when it comes to the Southeast Division.
Based on the current standings, whoever comes in second in the Southeast Division is likely on the outside looking in for the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs starting in April.
It was the Panthers second straight ugly loss after the team was thumped over the weekend by the Tampa Bay Lightning, 6-3.
“We have to stay positive, and we have to up our level of play,” Florida defenseman Brian Campbell said. “Some nights we’re there. Other nights we’re not.”
While Vokoun shined for the Capitals, Florida’s goalie situation continued to deteriorate with starter Jose Theodore still out nursing an injury.
Scott Clemmensen has proved that he’s in way over his head this season as he’s given up nearly 10 goals in his last two games.
This was the fourth meeting of the two teams this season. The series is split at 2-2 with both teams winning all of the games on their home ice.
The teams meet again next week from the friendly confines of the Bank Atlantic Center.