The Washington Times - December 2, 2008, 06:46PM

It’s a Tuesday night with Versus airing Flyers-Lightning, which means another night with the Caps playing in the dark. Well, not actually in the dark, but no TV coverage anywhere. I’ll be doing my best to keep you updated on the game between the Caps and Panthers.

The Caps (13-8-3, 29 points- still in first place), as has been the case recently, are the walking wounded. Center Boyd Gordon is in the lineup. Jose Theodore (8-4-1, 3.01 GAA, .893 save percentage) is in net.

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The Panthers (9-11-3, 21 points) will be without David Booth, Richard Zednik and Nathan Horton, which means their top goal-scorer is Gregory Campbell (four goals in 18 games). Craig Anderson (4-1-3, 1.87, .948) gets the nod for Florida.

Here are the starting lineups:

Caps: LW Tomas Fleischmann, C Michael Nylander, RW Matt Bradley, D Shaone Morrisonn and Sami Lepisto, G Jose Theodore

Panthers: LW Ville Peltonen, C Gregory Campbell, RW Radek Dvorak, D Karlis Skrastins and Jay Bouwmeester, G Craig Anderson.

18:18 left in first - Karl Alzner showed why he should one day be a top-two NHL defenseman, dropping down to block a shot in the game’s opening minutes.

17:01 left in first - Panthers center Stephen Weiss just made a sick move, getting past Sami Lepisto before Jose Theodore made the save. Weiss is an up-and-down player, but the Caps can’t afford to give him a lot of space.

13:46 left in first - The Caps are going on the power play after a hooking call against Florida’s Michael Frolik.

11:34 left in first - Florida survived the power play, with the Caps’ best chance coming when Michael Nylander got the puck to Craig Anderson’s right and bobbled it before directing it on net. In case you were wondering, the power-play units were: Alex Ovechkin, Viktor Kozlov, Tomas Fleischmann, Nicklas Backstrom and Sami Lepisto (first part) and Ovechkin, Brooks Laich, Eric Fehr, Nylander and Bryan Helmer (second).

8:45 left in first - Even-strength, the Panthers have kept the pressure on the Caps, but Washington’s power play was effective in everything but scoring. If the Panthers lack discipline the rest of the night, the first unit especially looks poised to cash in.

5:48 left in first - Well, so much for the Panthers’ constant pressure. The Caps kept control of the puck in the offensive zone for a good minute, playing five-on-five. Shot total is now Caps 7, Panthers 2.

4:03 left in first - CAPS 1, PANTHERS 0 - Florida’s Brett McLean is whistled for tripping Donald Brashear, and the Caps cash in with a power-play goal by Nicklas Backstrom. The cross-zone pass deflected off Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester in front of the net.

2:25 left in first - Milan Jurcina is called for interference, providing a test for the Caps’ 24th-ranked penalty-killing unit.

End of first period - Penalty killed, period over. Jose Theodore did make a couple point-blank saves on Radek Dvorak in the closing seconds to preserve the Caps’ lead. Caps lead 1-0 and have outshot the Panthers 8-4.

Forgive my lack of information: Tomas Fleischmann and Sami Lepisto got the assists on Nicklas Backstrom’s goal. Bouwmeester can’t really be faulted for the puck going in; it was just an unfortunate bounce for Florida’s best player and the guy who sees the most ice time in the league. It probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway, as Ovechkin was standing there ready to bat the puck in from the left side of the crease.

Start of second period - The Caps are 13-2-2 this season when holding the lead at any point.

12:40 left in second - CAPS 1, PANTHERS 1 - Unbelievable move in front of the net by Ville Peltonen. He deked in the offensive zone and roofed it over Jose Theodore’s left shoulder. Lone Assist to Dvorak.

Rookie Karl Alzner was guarding Peltonen on the play, but the goal wasn’t the result of poor defense. Peltonen didn’t have much room to navigate, but he managed to use an apparent screen to tie the game.

The Panthers are on the power play after an interference call on Ovechkin.

12:32 left in second - PANTHERS 2, CAPS 1 - The puck goes off Karl Alzner’s skate and into the net. David Steckel was just trying to make a pass in the defensive zone, and the bounce clearly went against the Caps. Credit for the power-play goal goes to Bouwmeester.

8:37 left in second - Eric Fehr put the puck over the glass from the defensive zone - an automatic penalty. The Panthers get another chance on the power play.

7:51 left in second - PANTHERS 3, CAPS 1 - The shot from the point by Bryan McCabe looked like it was going wide … until the puck appeared to hit Morrisonn in front and get past Theodore. Three goals in this game have now been put in off of defenders. McLean and Frolik are credited with the assists on yet another harsh bounce for the Capitals.

2:43 left in second - This is more of a reflection than an update, but the goals in this game have not exactly belonged in any kind of highlight reel. Backstrom’s was a pass that ricocheted off Bouwmeester around the crease. Bouwmeester’s was, in reality, an attempted outlet pass by Steckel that clanked off Alzner’s skate. McCabe’s was a nasty redirection of a shot that had no business being on net.

UPDATE: End of second period - Well, if Caps fans have any positives to take out of that second period, it’s that Alex Ovechkin is starting to look like Alex Ovechkin - getting open ice and creating scoring chances. And it’s not as if the Panthers have been the superior team. Florida has gotten two more bounces than the Caps, meaning Washington will likely need a break or two (or an exploitation of the Panthers’ defensive corps) to get back to even in this one.

The Caps are outshooting the Panthers 14-13, but that is little consolation for Bruce Boudreau’s team as it tries to avoid losing in regulation at home for the first time this season.

15:15 left in third - PANTHERS 4, CAPS 1 - Radek Dvorak had plenty of ice to Theodore’s right and made the goalie pay. Dvorak roofed it for his second point of the night, and boos are becoming the backdrop here at Verizon Center. Campbell and Peltonen get the assists. Four goals on 16 shots now for Florida.

12:54 left in third - The Capitals are well on their way to their first home regulation loss of the season. Coincidentally or otherwise, it’s also in front of their smallest crowd of the season (16,792 announced). The Caps get a chance now to close the gap, heading on the power play after an interference penalty on Bouwmeester.

6:55 left in third - Nylander gets the box for hooking, and the Caps will be forced to go into kill mode down by three.

1:30 left in third - PANTHERS 4, CAPS 3 - Well, so much for listless Caps lose with a thud. Fleischmann makes it interesting with a power-play goal.

PANTHERS 5, CAPS 3, final - The idea that the Caps could come all the way back was sparked by Fleischmann’s marker, but the Panthers iced the game with a tip-in goal by Gregory Campbell.

- Steve Whyno