With goalie Tim Thomas out with an injury, the Panthers needed a big-time performance from Scott Clemmensen to beat the high-flying Capitals.
They got it.
Clemmensen stopped the final six shots he faced in a marathon shootout to lift Florida to a 3-2 victory over Washington on Friday night at BB&T Center.
The Capitals, who beat the Panthers by an identical score in Washington last month, scored on three of their first four shootout attempts but didn’t score after that.
Tomas Kopecky’s tally against third-string goalie Phillip Grubauer in the 10th round gave the Panthers a rare victory over the Capitals. Washington had won 10 of 11 against Florida.
The Panthers, with back-to-back shootout wins, have won four of their past five.
Friday’s game was tied for the second-longest shootout in franchise history.
“It’s a gimmicky thing, but I’m a hypocrite because when I’m at home, I love watching it,” said Clemmensen, who gave up goals on all three of Washington’s shots in Florida’s shootout loss on Nov. 2.
“I’m not a fan of it. Hey, we won. I don’t just say that after we lose.”
The Panthers could have Thomas back Sunday against the Canadiens but might be without defenseman Erik Gudbranson if he is suspended after receiving a match penalty for his high elbow on Eric Fehr in the second period. Fehr hit the deck after Gudbranson launched into him; Gudbranson got five minutes for his subsequent fight with Troy Brouwer and was ejected for aiming for Fehr’s head.
General manager Dale Tallon and coach Peter Horachek said they didn’t think Gudbranson led with his elbow. Tallon said he will speak with the NHL’s Brendan Shanahan about getting the match penalty rescinded.
Because Gudbranson was slapped with a match penalty on April 11 for a hit on Bryan Little, he could be suspended for Friday’s hit. If Shanahan pulls back the match designation, Gudbranson might be able to play.
“There’s no elbow; it’s to his side, and [Fehr] got hit in the chest first,” Horachek said. “We’ll leave it to [the NHL] to look at it. … Right now, all our guys are playing well. You don’t want to change anything, don’t want to lose anyone, especially under those circumstances.”
With Gudbranson out, Florida not only played without one of its top defenseman but had an extended penalty kill.
Both Washington and Florida scored on a four-on-four chance, but the Capitals picked up their second goal during the three-minute power play left on Gudbranson’s fighting major.
It looked like it could be a long night for the Panthers after the Capitals put a puck past Clemmensen 41 seconds into the game.
Only Washington’s Martin Erat came through the crease and made contact with Clemmensen; the goal was disallowed.
Florida scored first, with Dylan Olsen continuing his hot streak by picking up his third goal and sixth point in the past five games.
The teams scored alternating goals in the second and were tied at 2 going into the third.
Aleksander Barkov gave Florida the lead back after picking off a clear attempt in the Florida zone and whipping a shot past Grubauer with 20 seconds left in the 4-on-4.
Washington was awarded its second goal after the fact as Hockey Central in Toronto gave Joel Ward a late-second-period marker following video review.
With 30 seconds left in the period, Clemmensen lost sight of a loose puck hanging dangerously behind him. Defenseman Mike Weaver tried to clear it, but the puck drifted over the line before being knocked away.
At the next stoppage in play — with 6.6 seconds left — officials waited for word from Toronto. The right call was made, and Ward was given his goal. The game went back in time as 29 seconds were put back on the clock.
Horachek said Thomas’ probable groin injury shouldn’t keep him out of the lineup for much longer. Thomas could practice Saturday morning, and Horachek said he will be on the charter flight to Canada.