SUNRISE, Fla. – Bill Thomas scored with 6:05 remaining and Tomas Vokoun made 28 saves to help the Florida Panthers close the season by snapping a 10-game losing streak with a 1-0 victory over the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.
Washington, which lost for only the third time in 20 games (16-3-1), had clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference on Friday when Philadelphia lost to Buffalo.
Despite Washington having nothing at stake, Alexander Ovechkin and the other Capitals stars played in the team's season finale.
The one exception was defenseman Mike Green, who sat out his 20th consecutive game since sustaining a head injury on Feb. 25. Green had been expected to make his return to action on Saturday.
Michal Neuvirth made 22 saves for the Capitals.
The victory was the Panthers' first since a 4-0 shutout over Toronto on March 17 and helped them avoid matching the NHL's longest season-ending slide since the 1967 expansion. The 2003-04 Los Angeles Kings and 1976-77 Detroit Red Wings both ended the season with 11 consecutive losses.
Vokoun, making perhaps his last start for the Panthers, made a triumphant return after missing five games because of a back injury. Vokoun, whose contract expires after the season and who'll be a free agent, recorded his sixth shutout of the season.
Most of Vokoun's best stops came against Ovechkin, including a blocker save with 3:25 left in the third period.
Thomas broke the scoreless tie with a fluky goal right off a faceoff. After Patrick Rissmiller's pass was tipped, Thomas swung and hit the puck out of midair and it bounced between Neuvirth's legs.
Notes: The loss prevented Washington from matching its record for most road victories in a season (24), set last year. ... Washington rested veteran C Jason Arnott for the second consecutive time this week. ... The teams ended up splitting their six-game series. ... C Stephen Weiss, Florida's leading scorer, returned after missing three games because of a groin injury.