SUNRISE, Fla. – Dennis Wideman gave the Florida Panthers a lead they couldn’t lose.
Wideman scored a power-play goal in overtime and the Panthers beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 on Tuesday night after squandering a three-goal cushion.
Wideman’s wrist shot from the right circle beat Michal Neuvirth on the glove side at 2:51 of overtime, ending Florida’s three-game losing streak. Mike Santorelli, Marty Reasoner and David Booth also scored for the Panthers, while Tomas Vokoun stopped 30 shots.
Florida has held a lead in four of its last five defeats.
“A big lift. Obviously, we’ve struggled with the situation we were in tonight with the lead,” Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. “Any kind of confidence builder for us where we get the right result I’ll take right now.”
Wideman took a pass from Stephen Weiss from the point and got off his shot with just six seconds left on the power play.
“We were moving our feet and getting open for each other and creating passing lanes and creating shooting lanes,” Wideman said. “I knew we were running out of time so I was just trying to get into a lane and get it to the net. It was just good for us to finally hold onto one.”
Marcus Johansson scored two goals for Washington and Mike Knuble added another. Neuvirth had 37 saves as the Capitals lost for just the third time in 10 games.
Washington gave up three power-play goals and went 0 for 5 with the man advantage.
“If we’re going to look this lethargic on the power play, that’s where we are losing games,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It’s not 5 on 5, it’s not the penalty killing, it’s the power play. I keep putting the same guys out thinking eventually it’s going to turn around, but it’s not. We’re going to have to do something to shake the power play up.”
Florida scored twice in the first period, taking a 1-0 lead during a 5-on-3 power play. Weiss took a shot from Neuvirth’s left that went off the goalie. Santorelli grabbed the rebound and poked it in at 9:52.
It was only the second power-play goal for the Panthers in their last 22 chances. The Capitals had killed off 33 of 34 power plays until Santorelli’s goal.
The Panthers went ahead 2-0 at 12:14. Bryan McCabe took a shot from the left point that deflected off Reasoner’s skate and into the net. The Capitals were outshot 20-7 in the period.
Florida scored its second goal with a two-man advantage at 6:48 of the second. Weiss’ shot from in close was blocked, but Booth was able to backhand in the rebound.
Washington closed to 3-1 at 10:10 of the second. Johansson exchanged cross-ice passes with Brooks Laich before firing a wrist shot from the right circle. The puck glanced off Vokoun’s glove and into the net.
The Capitals made it a one-goal deficit on Knuble’s goal at 13:30, his 500th career point. Alex Ovechkin passed from the left circle to Knuble, whose wrist shot got past Vokoun, who had come out of the net to block the shot.
Washington tied it at 7:12 of the third on Johansson’s second goal. The puck came off the end boards and a shot by Matt Hendricks put it in front of the crease and between Vokoun’s knees. As Vokoun tried to cover up, Johansson pushed in the puck and it was three-all.
“We have to see the positive,” Johansson said. “We fought back from being down 3-0. We played well the second half of the game.”
NOTES: Washington’s leading scorer, Alexander Semin, remains day-to-day with an lower-body injury sustained last Saturday against Florida. … The Capitals have scored three or more goals in seven of their past nine games. … Florida forward Chris Higgins missed his second straight game due to a hamstring injury. … Panthers forward Evgeny Dadanov was picked as one of the rookies to participate in the skills competition at the NHL all-star game.