|The biggest game of the year.|
Former Capital Jose Theodore is expected to get the call in goal from Kevin Dineen after appearing in relief during Florida's last game. Theodore, who recently missed a long spell with a knee injury, is 15-9-5 on the year with a 2.48 GAA, .915 save percentage, and two shutouts. Outside the crease, the Panthers will be without defensemen Jay Garrison (lower body), Ed Jovanovski (hand), and Dmitry Kulikov (knee), as well as forwards Marco Strum (knee) and Scottie Upshall (hernia).
Tomas Vokoun should start for Dale Hunter after allowing 2 goals on 27 shots in his last outing against the Jets over a week ago; he had been forced to miss the last two games with a bad flu. Vokoun is 22-13-2 on the year with a 2.40 GAA, .920 save percentage, and four shutouts on the year, and has been a backbone for the Capitals over the last seven weeks. On the injury front, both Mike Green (sports hernia surgery) and Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) are out and will not play. Winger Mike Knuble, who has been scratched over the last three games for absurd reasons, should return to the lineup, with Keith Aucoin heading to the bench in his place. Look for John Erskine to be the healthy scratch on defense.
Puck drops for this one 7:38-ish.