Florida went on a hot streak to get back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture, going unbeaten in five straight from Feb. 18-25. The Panthers, however, saw that run halted Friday with a 4-1 home loss to the Capitals.
Florida followed that defeat with a 2-2 tie at Chicago on Sunday. The Islanders lost in overtime to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday, so the Panthers stayed nine points behind New York for eighth place in the conference.
“I tried to go to Lyle Odelein, but the puck hit the defenseman’s stick or something and went right to Val’s stick,” Jokinen said. “A little lucky there.”
Washington has earned a point in just two of its last five games—both coming against Florida. The Caps and Panthers skated to a 2-2 tie on Feb. 21 before Washington beat Florida on Friday.
The Caps fell to 1-3-1 in their last five with a 4-2 road loss to the Southeast Division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
Washington tied it 2-2 on Alexander Semin’s bad-angle goal at 8:44 of the third period, but Tampa Bay’s Cory Stillman had a shot deflect off his shoulder into the net with 3:29 left to give the Lightning the lead.
“In a game like that, you definitely want to get at least a point out of it,” said Caps forward Dainius Zubrus. “It was a tough ending.”
Washington defenseman Sergei Gonchar is expected to be back in the lineup after missing the last two games with the flu. Gonchar leads the Caps with 42 assists and 49 points.
Florida is 2-1-2 against Washington this season, and is looking to win the season series for the first time since 1995-96.
STANDINGS (through Feb. 29): Panthers - 63 points, 2nd place, 19 PB, Southeast Division. Capitals - 50 points, 5th place, 32 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Panthers - Bure and Jokinen, 18 goals; Bure, 23 assists and 41 points; Darcy Hordichuk, 124 PIM. Capitals - Anson Carter, 14 goals; Gonchar, 42 assists and 49 points; Jason Doig, 103 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 29): Panthers - Power play: 16.0 percent (38 for 237), 16th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.6 percent (250 for 292), 4th. Capitals - Power play: 19.3 percent (52 for 270), 6th. Penalty killing: 81.6 percent (252 for 309), 26th.
SEASON SERIES: Panthers, 2-1-2.
LAST MEETING: Friday; Capitals, 4-1. At Sunrise, Fla., Brian Willsie scored the first of four third-period goals for Washington, snapping Luongo’s shutout streak at a club-record 182 minutes, 37 seconds.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Panthers - 10-16-8-1 on the road; Capitals - 10-16-5-1 at home.