SUNRISE, Florida (AP) — David Booth had two goals and three
assists to lift the Florida Panthers to a 7-4 win over the
Washington Capitals on Saturday night in the regular-season
finale for both teams.
Steve Eminger and Michael Frolik scored in an 8-second span to
break a 4-4 tie in the third period. Nick Tarnasky added an
empty-netter with 9 seconds remaining.
Radek Dvorak and Bryan McCabe also scored for the Panthers, who
were eliminated from playoff contention on Thursday. Booth’s
goals were his 30th and 31st of the season; he became the sixth
player in Florida’s franchise history to reach the 30-goal mark.
Alexander Semin scored twice for Washington, and Brooks Laich
and Alexander Ovechkin also got goals. The Capitals clinched the
second seed in the Eastern Conference on Thursday.
With his assist on Semin’s goal, Ovechkin tied his career high
for assists in a season with 54, matching the total he set in
his rookie season.
Ovechkin finished the season likely to win the Maurice Richard
Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer. He had 56 goals this
season, 11 more than Philadelphia center Jeff Carter.
The Capitals will face the New York Rangers in the first round
of the Stanley Cup playoffs, which start Wednesday.
Saturday’s game was the end of the line for the Panthers, who
haven’t been in the postseason since 2000. Florida came
tantalizingly close to the playoffs this year, finishing with 93
Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun made 37 saves, while Jose Theodore
stopped 35 shots for Washington.
Booth broke a 3-all tie with his goal at 6:48 in the third
period, but at 13:09 in the third, Ovechkin beat Vokoun to make
it 4-4. Eminger’s goal, his first for the Panthers, came at
15:32 to break the 4-4 tie. Then Frolik put home a rebound of a
Booth shot at 15:40 in the third, giving Florida a 6-4 lead.
With 4:07 remaining in the second, Ovechkin’s pass went off
Tarnasky and ricocheted toward Semin, who was near the crease.
He picked up the loose puck and closed the gap to 3-2. Then
Semin’s power-play goal tied it at 3-3 at 3:27 of the third
The Panthers went up 3-1 on McCabe’s power-play goal with 8:02
left in the second period. Booth’s pass set up the goal.
Dvorak’s breakaway goal at 8:20 in the second period gave
Florida a 2-1 lead. Dvorak, who had just come out of the penalty
box, took a pass from Karlis Skrastins near the blue line and
beat Theodore with a slap shot from the slot. Booth tied it at
1-1 with 4:10 left in the first period. He threw the puck toward
the net and it bounced off a Capitals player and into the net.
Washington opened the scoring at 10:15 in the first. Semin fed
the puck to Laich after Florida defenseman Keith Ballard turned
it over. Laich shot from the high slot to give the Capitals a
1-0 lead with his third goal in two games.