SUNRISE, Fla. - The Washington Capitals have already proven they can beat Florida without Alex Ovechkin. Having him in the lineup sure didn't hurt, though.
Tomas Fleischmann scored in the sixth round of a shootout to give the Capitals a 5-4 comeback victory over the Panthers on Wednesday night. Ovechkin, Jason Chimera, Brian Pothier and Nicklas Backstrom scored in regulation for the Capitals.
"We started working pretty hard in the second period and the third was the same thing," Fleischmann said. We came back and lucky for us we did."
Michael Frolik, Dominic Moore, Stephen Weiss and Gregory Campbell scored for Florida, and Tomas Vokoun stopped 33 shots.
Jose Theodore stopped all 15 shots he faced after replacing Michal Neuvirth with Florida leading 4-1 midway through the second period.
Brendan Morrison and Brooks Laich also had shootout goals for the Capitals, while Frolik and Weiss scored for Florida in the tiebreaker.
In each of Washington's three previous games against Florida this season, Ovechkin hadn't been on the ice. An upper-body injury sidelined Ovechkin for a home-and-home series in November and he was suspended when the Capitals faced Florida on Dec. 3. The Panthers still lost all three games.
Ovechkin's unassisted goal cut Florida's lead to one early in the third period. He picked up a loose puck and scored 27 seconds into the third, making it 4-3.
"It was kind of a lucky goal but I'll take it," Ovechkin said.
The Capitals tied it at 4 on Backstrom's tip-in goal, which trickled through Vokoun's pads at 12:25 in the third.
Campbell's goal, his first of the season, chased Neuvirth and put Florida up 4-1 at 9:49 in the second. Washington made it 4-2 when Pothier scored with 3:48 remaining in the second period.
"We always had that feeling tonight that something good was going to happen, we were always in striking range," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Once we made it 4-2 near the end of the second, we thought we could come back. Fortunately, for us, we did."
With Washington down 2-0 after the first period, Chimera closed the gap to 2-1 just 18 seconds into the second with his unassisted goal. Florida responded with Weiss' power-play goal. His slap shot from the blue line went through Neuvirth's pads to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead at 4:04 in the second.
Moore scored at 15:11 in the first period on an odd shot that initially wasn't credited as a goal. His backhand shot hit the crossbar and ricocheted out of the net. The crowd started to cheer, but play went on. The shot was reviewed when play stopped about a minute later and the goal was awarded, stretching Florida's lead to 2-0.
Frolik opened the scoring at 6:44 in the first period. He took a pass from Weiss and beat Neuvirth with a backhander to put the Panthers up 1-0.
"We have to learn how to win games," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. "We do a lot of things right on a lot of nights, but this is a game that is about wins and losses and we aren't good at closing teams out or doing what it takes to finish teams off."
NOTES: The Panthers collected donations for victims of the earthquake in Haiti. The team asked fans to bring checks, cash, clothing or food to the BankAtlantic Center. The Panthers also will accept donations Saturday against the Lightning. ... Panthers LW David Booth (concussion) participated in non-contact drills at the morning skate. ... Washington and Florida are scheduled to meet two more times this season.