Washington goaltender Tomas Vokoun haunted his former team Florida with a 42-save shutout as the Capitals reclaimed first place in the Southeast Division with a 4-0 win over the Panthers on Tuesday.
Florida outshot the home team 42-24, but could not find a way past Vokoun, who held them scoreless for the second time this season after having played for the Panthers from 2007 to last year before being acquired by Washington in the off-season.
Alexander Ovechkin scored twice as the Capitals netted two goals in the first two periods to get the upper hand against their division rivals.
“We definitely want to win our division and that is what we set our goal as,” Vokoun told reporters. “It’s not going to be easy. Every game is going to be tough.”
Florida had taken over the Southeast lead with a win over Washington last week, but have now fallen a point behind the Capitals.
The Panthers are trying to reach their first postseason since the 1999-2000 season. Washington have reassumed their dominant role as they have captured the last four division titles.
Mathieu Perreault got the home team off to a fast start with a goal 13 seconds into the game before Ovechkin padded the lead to 2-0 midway through the opening period.
Jason Chimera scored a minute into the second and Ovechkin tallied again 10 minutes later to put the game away.
“They are a good team and by no means does this mean the division is wrapped up,” said Washington’s Brooks Laich, who played despite leaving his previous game with a knee injury. “It was an important hockey game for us.”
Scott Clemmensen had 20 saves for the Panthers in the defeat. The two teams will meet again on Friday next week.
CANUCKS 4, PREDATORS 3, SO
In Nashville, Vancouver’s Alex Edler scored in the sixth round of a shootout to give the Canucks a win over the Nashville Predators, their fifth in six games.
The Canucks improved to 2-1 in the season series against the team they ousted in the Western Conference semi-finals last season.
Roberto Luongo stopped 37 shots for the Canucks, who now lead the Northwest Division by 13 points.
Alex Burrows had the only other Vancouver goal in the shootout. Ryan Kesler, Byron Bitz and Daniel Sedin scored in regulation.
BLUES 3, SENATORS 1
In Ottawa, David Perron scored twice as St Louis condemned Ottawa to their seventh straight loss.
Blues goalie Brian Elliott made 28 saves in his regular-season return to face his old team in Ottawa.
Chris Porter also scored for the Blues. Daniel Alfredsson scored his 18th of the season for the Senators.
JETS 2, MAPLE LEAFS 1
In Winnipeg, Bryan Little scored the go-ahead goal in the second period as Winnipeg edged Toronto.
Chris Thorburn also scored for the Jets.
Phil Kessel had his 30th goal for the Maple Leafs, who are seventh in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Ottawa. Toronto had won three in a row.
CANADIENS 3, PENGUINS 2, SO
In Montreal, Tomas Plekanec scored on Montreal’s eighth attempt in the shootout to lead the Canadiens over Pittsburgh.
Rene Bourque scored on Montreal’s first shootout attempt, before Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin used a spin-around move to tie it.
Montreal’s Lars Eller and Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz then both scored in the fifth round to maintain the tie until Plekanec netted.
Louis Leblanc and Eller scored for the Canadiens in regulation.
Pascal Dupuis and James Neal had scored tying goals for the Penguins, the latter assisted by Malkin, who extended his NHL lead to 62 points.