WASHINGTON -- One thing went through Florida Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun's mind as he traded save after save with Washington Capitals goalie Olie Kolzig in a shootout that went on and on and on Wednesday night.
"Eventually," Vokoun said, "it's going to end."
That it did. Stephen Weiss put a backhander past Kolzig in the 11th round, and Vokoun then stopped Brian Pothier's wrist shot, helping the Panthers beat the Capitals 2-1 for their season-high fourth consecutive victory.
"I was relieved when I stopped that shot," Vokoun said.
The shootout, which ended 4-3, was the longest in Panthers history and improved the team to 3-0 this season in a tiebreaking format Washington star Alex Ovechkin called "a lottery." The Capitals hadn't been involved in a shootout since March 15, 2007, and they went 1-11 last season.
"Coaches love them when they're winning," said Capitals interim coach Bruce Boudreau, 2-1-1 since replacing the fired Glen Hanlon last week, "and absolutely hate them when they lose."
Vokoun blocked Ovechkin's wrist shot in the second round of the shootout and also made a nice save on him with 12.1 seconds left in overtime.
Indeed, Vokoun and his teammates managed to keep Washington scoreless for a 4-on-3 power play over the last 1:59 of overtime. Florida held Ovechkin without a point all game, ending his season-best nine-game scoring streak, including when Vokoun stopped a backhander after the Russian slipped behind the defense and came in for a 1-on-1 opportunity with under 2 minutes left in regulation.
"To be able to keep those guys -- Ovechkin -- off the scoreboard was a huge job, especially in the overtime," said Florida's Jacques Martin, who broke a franchise record with his 84th victory as the team's coach. "I thought in the 4-on-3, the guys did an outstanding job of blocking shots. They showed a lot of desperation."
Vokoun made 32 saves before the shootout, four more than Kolzig.
"You've got to give Vokoun credit," said Capitals forward Brooks Laich, who appeared to have Florida's goalie fooled in the shootout but sent the puck over the net. "He made some great saves."
Kolzig was nearly as good, although Weiss figured him out.
Weiss was asked what his approach was.
"I don't know. I don't really have one," he replied, before adding: "I think (Kolzig) was tired by then, so maybe that helped."
Captain Chris Clark, who scored Washington's goal in the second period, and Alexander Semin weren't available for the shootout because of injuries. The Capitals wouldn't say what was wrong with Clark, while Semin aggravated a bad right ankle.
This was the teams' third meeting in two weeks -- the Panthers won the first two, too, each by a goal -- and they square off again Saturday in Florida.
The Capitals created two great scoring chances early in the third period, one off a shot by Dave Steckel blocked by Vokoun, the other off a shot by Mike Green that found a post, and the hosts failed to put in either rebound.
The game did not begin well for the Capitals, who were whistled for one penalty 2 minutes into the game, and another for too many men on the ice with 2 seconds left in that power play.
Florida took advantage, going up 1-0 less than 5 minutes into the game on former Capitals forward Richard Zednik's eighth goal of the season, off a rebound.
Washington tied it when Clark stole a clear attempt by defenseman Steve Montador right at the blue line and quickly shot past Vokoun with about 5½ minutes left in the second period.
"The one goal they got, I thought we gave it to them," Martin said.
|Tomas Vokoun is up to the task. He stops 40 shots, including eight in the lengthy shootout. (Getty Images)|
|Florida (12-12-1) «||1||0||0||0||1 (4)||2|
|Washington (8-15-2)||0||1||0||0||0 (3)||1|
Save Pct.: .966
Save Pct.: .970
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|04:49||Power Play - Richard Zednik (8), Tip-In. Assist: Jozef Stumpel, Ruslan Salei|
|14:27||Chris Clark (5), Snap Shot, Unassisted.|
|Olli Jokinen (2), GOAL|
|Viktor Kozlov (1), GOAL|
|Nathan Horton (1), GOAL|
|Nicklas Backstrom (1), GOAL|
|Kamil Kreps (1), GOAL|
|Boyd Gordon (1), GOAL|
|Stephen Weiss (1), GOAL|
|02:04||Semin, 2 min, Hooking|
|04:02||Ovechkin, 2 min, Bench - Too Many Men on the Ice|
|14:29||Zednik, 2 min, Tripping|
|03:40||Brashear, 2 min, Holding|
|06:30||Montador, 2 min, Hooking|
|11:01||Bradley, 5 min, Fighting|
|11:01||Murray, 5 min, Fighting|
|15:12||Clark, 2 min, Hooking|
|19:22||Jokinen, 2 min, Hooking|
|11:16||Pettinger, 2 min, Tripping|
|13:01||Zednik, 2 min, Holding|
|03:01||Cullimore, 2 min, Tripping|
|Shots On Goal|
|Goalie||MINS||S||GA||SO S||SO GA|
|Attendance - 10526|
|Referees - Greg Kimmerly, Brad Watson|
|Linesmen - Mark Shewchyk, Pat Dapuzzo|