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Washington
Capitals
23-46-10-3
Florida
Panthers
28-35-15-4

game preview

Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:48 AM

Associated Press

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Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers
Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers
Capitals-Panthers Preview

GAME: Washington Capitals (14-27-5-2) at Florida Panthers (15-20-10-3).

TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

Until they stop blowing leads, a playoff berth for the Florida Panthers is very unlikely.

Florida tries to rebound from a very disappointing loss when it closes a four-game homestand against the Washington Capitals.

Florida built a 3-0 lead after one period Wednesday against Colorado before allowing the first three scores in the second period. Alex Tanguay's third goal of the game with 5:41 left in regulation gave the Avalanche a 6-5 victory.

Stephen Weiss and Valeri Bure had a goal and two assists apiece for the Panthers, who failed to get a victory for the seventh time this season in games they led by at least two goals.

"That's our problem, we get ahead and then we seem to get away from our game," Florida's Marcus Nilson said. "Once we get the lead, we have a problem playing the same way for 60 minutes. A team like that has a lot of firepower."

Roberto Luongo stopped 23 of 29 shots before he was replaced late in the third period by Steve Shields.

"It's going to be a tough game for any goalie," Luongo said. "I tried to do my best, but obviously I wasn't that successful."

Florida, 1-3-1-1 in its last six games, remained 12th in the Eastern Conference.

Already missing forward Viktor Kozlov and defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Branislav Mezei, the Panthers were without defenseman Mike Van Ryn for most of Wednesday's game. According to Florida coach Rick Dudley, Van Ryn was hit with a high stick from Colorado's Peter Worrell.

A coaching change last month hasn't been able to get the Capitals into playoff contention. They are 6-9-4-1 since Glen Hanlon replaced Bruce Cassidy, and 14 points behind the eighth-place New York Islanders.

Washington had earned a point in a season-best five straight games before a 3-2 loss to visiting Toronto on Wednesday.

"Every point counts now, especially in our case," Washington's Sergei Gonchar said. "We're way behind and to catch up we have to get every possible point of it, and today was a game when we needed to get at least one."

The Capitals could have center Dainius Zubrus back in the lineup Friday. Zubrus, out since Dec. 31 with a broken foot, is fifth on the team with 23 points in 38 games.

2003-2004 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 02 '04 FLA 1 at WSH 0 O. Jokinen
Feb 27 '04 WSH 4 at FLA 1 K. Miller
Feb 21 '04 FLA 2 at WSH 2 - OT S. Gonchar
Jan 23 '04 WSH 1 at FLA 4 B. Ritchie
Dec 17 '03 WSH 2 at FLA 2 - OT S. Weiss
Nov 22 '03 FLA 3 at WSH 2 - OT S. Weiss