News and notes as the Caps prepare for tonights crucial Southeast Division showdown with the Florida Panthers:
Goaltender Tomas Vokoun will get his second start against his former team. On Oct. 18 Vokoun shut out the Panthers 3-0 in his only other appearance against them this season. He spent the previous four seasons in southern Florida.
They changed the whole team. It would be different if I left and the team was the same. Its a totally different team except for maybe three guys. That part of my career is done, and Im focusing on its present and its future.
In their last meeting, goaltender Michal Neuvirth was shaky in a a 4-2 loss in Florida on Feb. 1. The Capitals are 4-4-2 in their last 10 games and trail Florida by one point in the Southeast Division. The Panthers are coming off a 6-3 loss at Tampa Bay on Saturday and are 4-3-3 in their last 10 games.
At home, the Capitals are 9-3-0 against Florida in their last 12 meetings at the Verizon Center, outscoring them 44-30. The Panthers have not won at the Verizon Center since Dec. 9, 2010.
Shot blockers: Washington set a single-game high for blocked shots in Sundays game against Boston, blocking 28 attempts. It marked the 12th time in their last 18 games the Caps have blocked 20 or more shots. Washington had 20 or more blocked shots just once in 22 games under Bruce Boudreau.
Southeast race: Since Dec. 6, Washington has gone 14-9-3 (31 points) while Florida has gone 9-8-7 (25 points). The Capitals power play has improved from 14.7 percent on Dec. 6 to 17.5 percent, while their penalty kill has jumped from 79.8 percent to 81.2 percent in the same span.
Special at home: The Capitals are 10-3-0 in their last 13 home games, outscoring their opponents 40-27 in that span. The Capitals own the third ranked power play in the NHL on home ice (23.5 percent) and the seventh-best penalty kill (86.4 percent) at home.
Florida frenzy: The Capitals have gone 17-8-1 against the Panthers over the last 26 games, outscoring them 90-68 in that span.
Hitting 20: Alex Ovechkin has reached the 20-goal plateau in each of his first seven seasons in the NHL. He is one of 43 players to have scored 20 or more goals in their first seven seasons and is one of only four active players to have done so (Jaromir Jagr, Teemu Selanne and Ilya Kovalchuk). Ovechkin is also one of just six players to have scored 20 or more goals every season since the 2005-06 campaign (Marian Hossa, Jarome Iginla, Vincent Lecavalier, Daniel Sedin and Kovalchuk).