Panthers 4, Capitals 3, SO

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WASHINGTON (AP)—Thanks to Roberto Luongo, the Florida Panthers ended a grueling road swing with five points and a break-even record.

Luongo made two shootout saves, Nathan Horton and Joe Nieuwendyk scored shootout goals and the Panthers beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 on Sunday.

“It was a must-win for us, obviously,” said Panthers center Olli Jokinen, who scored twice. “I guess we have to be satisfied—we played .500. But at this point in the year, it’s not going to be enough for us.”

Sean Hill added a goal in regulation for the Panthers, who ended a season-long five-game road trip with a 2-2-1 record. Horton and Nieuwendyk added two assists apiece.

Dainius Zubrus had two goals and Jamie Heward also scored for Washington, which squandered a 2-0 lead and has dropped four straight. Alex Ovechkin had two assists.

“We had a jump at the beginning of the game,” Zubrus said. “We were playing well and then, just like a couple of games ago, we got into trouble with penalties. Seems like a broken record.”

Horton and Nieuwendyk both scored by putting the puck between Olaf Kolzig’s pads after Kolzig had blocked the first shootout attempt by Jokinen. Brooks Laich scored a shootout goal for the Capitals, but Luongo made a kick save at the left post on Ovechkin and batted away Brian Willsie’s shot with his left hand.

Ovechkin was 5-for-7 on shootout attempts before being denied by Luongo’s sprawling stop.

“That’s my job—make saves and try to keep my team in it. I was trying to wait (Ovechkin) out,” said Luongo, who made 29 saves in regulation and four more in overtime. “I just hoped I could get a piece of it.”

Florida won its second game at MCI Center this season, snapping a three-game losing streak. Against the rest of the NHL, the Panthers are 3-16-4 on the road. The Panthers have also won five straight overall against Washington.

“We just got lucky in here a couple of times,” Horton said. “We worked hard, we battled and we got points.”

Heward’s slap shot from the right point gave Washington a 1-0 lead 19 seconds into the game, and Zubrus got his 100th career goal on a power play to make it 2-0 at 3:57.

Zubrus dashed to the right post to put in a cross-crease pass from Matt Pettinger, giving the Capitals a power-play goal in nine straight games, a season high.

Hill’s wrister from the top of the right circle at 17:25 cut the lead in half.

Florida, which failed on a 1:04 two-man advantage in the opening period, got goals from Jokinen on successive power-play opportunities 50 seconds apart midway through the second.

A holding penalty on Steve Eminger set up Jokinen’s 19th goal of the season at 10:16. Jokinen fired a shot past a screened Kolzig from the right point to tie it.

Laich went off for high-sticking 12 seconds later and Jokinen put the Panthers ahead at 11:06, sweeping in a cross-ice feed by Nieuwendyk from low in the left circle.

Zubrus’ man-up goal tied it with 7:17 left in regulation. Zubrus scored from the right circle, one-timing a pass from Bryan Muir.

Notes

Jokinen had not scored a goal in five games, matching his longest drought of the season. … Zubrus has a point in five straight games, a career high. … Ovechkin has assisted on all six of Heward’s goals. … Florida scratched C Stephen Weiss (wrist) for a fourth consecutive game, while Capitals C Jeff Halpern (groin) missed his third straight game.

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Three Stars

  Game Winning Goal
J. Nieuwendyk J. Nieuwendyk
Florida Panthers
Scored in the SO period

Goaltending

Goalie Team Shot Save
Roberto Luongo Fla 36 33
Olaf Kolzig Tor 42 39