SUNRISE, Fla. – Nathan Horton scored in his first game back after missing 10 games due to injury, and Roberto Luongo stopped 36 shots to lead the Florida Panthers to a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.

Stephen Weiss and Olli Jokinen also scored for Florida, which won for the second time in four games after losing 12 straight.

Bryan Muir and Andrew Cassels scored for Washington, which lost its fifth straight.

Washington’s Brent Johnson, making his sixth start of the season in place of Olie Kolzig, stopped 33 of 36 shots.

The Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, who leads the league’s rookies in goals, failed to score for a season-high sixth straight game. Luongo made a sensational glove save of a wrist shot by Ovechkin with 23 seconds left.

The teams entered the game tied with the fewest points in the Eastern Conference at 18.

The Panthers took a 3-1 lead on Jokinen’s power-play goal 4:19 into the third period. Johnson, screened by several players, failed to stop Jokinen’s wrist shot from just inside the blue line. It was Jokinen’s 11th goal.

Washington got within 3-2 at 7:24 when Cassels put the puck past Luongo while standing among seven players in front of the net. It was Cassels’ fourth goal.

Muir’s power-play goal pulled Washington within 2-1 at 11:20 of the second period. Muir fired a wrist shot from just inside the center the blue line for his fourth goal. Luongo, beaten to the stick side, was screened by defenseman Sean Hill.

Horton, who missed 10 games with a sprained knee, gave Florida a 2-0 lead with his eighth goal at 7:25 of the second period. Horton took a pass from Josef Stumpel and wristed a shot from the right circle that beat Johnson high to the glove side.

Weiss deflected Joe Nieuwendyk’s slap shot for a power-play goal at 12:26 of the first period. It was Weiss’ eighth goal and gave him 14 points in 17 games.

Notes: Referee Don Van Massenhoven dropped the ceremonial puck. Van Massenhoven has been sidelined since being hit in the face with a puck during a game between New Jersey and Florida on Nov. 23. … The game had been postponed on Oct. 29 due to the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma. … D Alexei Semenov, acquired from Edmonton on Nov. 19, made his debut with the Panthers.

AP-ES-12-01-05 2144EST


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