Capitals top Panthers 4-2; both get into playoffs
Florida Panthers center Marcel Goc (57) and goalie Jose Theodore (60) watch as Washington Capitals left wing Troy Brouwer (20), right, celebrates his assist to center Brooks Laich, not pictured, during the second period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, April 5, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) / Evan Vucci
Both teams qualified after Buffalo lost 2-1 at Philadelphia, eliminating the Sabres.
Still to be determined is the winner of the Southeast Division. The Panthers are in the playoffs for the first time in 12 years, but they also will win their first division title in franchise history if they gain at least a point at home against Carolina or if the Capitals lose to the New York Rangers on Saturday, the final day of the regular season.
In a wacky game that included three goalie changes in a 6-minute stretch in the second period, the Capitals raced to a 3-0 lead with goals from Jay Beagle, Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich. Of significant concern for Washington is a left leg injury that sent Michal Neuvirth to the locker room, leaving Braden Holtby as the only healthy netminder on the roster.
Mikael Samuelson and Ed Jovanovski scored to start a comeback that fell short for the Panthers, who switched from Jose Theodore to Scott Clemmensen and back to Theodore in the second period.
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