Cats Close Within Five Points of Eighth Place Atlanta
Sim Scores Game Winner; Panthers a Perfect 7-0 vs. Capitals This Season
While every match-up is a different team, the feeling is the same; every game is a must win for the Panthers. The Cats took this mentality to the ice when they faced off against rookie sensation Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals tonight at the BankAtlantic Center. In front of 14,802 fans, the Cats tallied another close victory and move within five points of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race defeating the Capitals 3-2.
Penalties were abundant throughout the first period providing scoring opportunities. Only Washington was able to take advantage with Brian Willsie registering the only goal of the period on a power play with under two minutes to go in the first.
While the Capitals had the lead at the start of the second it wouldn't last for long.
Joe Nieuwendyk scored his 19th of the year 35 seconds into the second period on a power-play to tie the game with assists from the red hot Jozef Stumpel, his 36th, and Ric Jackman, his 23rd and his first assist as a Panther.
The scoring continued on special teams when Stumpel added a goal, his 14th of the year. Nieuwendyk returned the favor with his 21st assist, and Gary Roberts recorded his 20th assist as well.
Before the period was halfway through, Jon Sim was able to force one through the legs of the Caps goalie from Chris Gratton, his 20th assist, and Joel Kwiatkowski, his 8th, to give the Cats a 3-1 lead heading into the third.
Washington did not give up though. Dainius Zubrus was able to sneak one by Roberto Luongo on a pass from Ovechkin. This led to a hard fought battle to the end when the Panthers showed no relenting to escape with their fourth win in a row and a 7-0-0 record against the Capitals this season.
The victory gives the Cats a 7-1 record in this month's home stand. The Panthers look to carry the momentum into Friday when they take on the New York Rangers in the last game before embarking on a three game road trip.