This Date in Caps History - February 23
On February 23, 2000, the Capitals defeated the Florida Panthers 3-2 in overtime at the MCI Center. The victory enabled Washington to pull within three points of Southeast Division leading Florida, which had enjoyed a 16-point advantage over the Capitals just over a month earlier.
Joe Murphy started the scoring for Washington with his first goal as a Capital at 3:10 of the first period. Florida's Ray Sheppard tied it on a power play at 9:34 of the opening period. Washington dominated play in the period - outshooting the Panthers by an 18-6 margin - but Florida's Trevor Kidd kept his team in the game with some timely stops.
Washington again had the better of the play in the middle period, outshooting the Panthers, 13-6. Both Kidd and Washington's Olaf Kolzig kept the opposition off the scoreboard in the period.
Florida took a 2-1 lead at 9:41 of the third period when Viktor Kozlov beat Kolzig on a penalty shot. It was the third penalty shot Kolzig had faced in his career and the first time he had been beaten. With just 3:28 remaining in regulation, Steve Konowalchuk knotted the game for Washington. Konowalchuk was running on adrenaline as he had been up virtually all of the previous night while his wife was giving birth to their son. With seconds remaining in the contest, Florida's Peter Worrell was whistled for an elbowing call when he got one of his wings up in Richard Zednik's face.
The Caps held a four-on-three manpower advantage as the two teams took to the ice for the overtime session. A turnover at the Florida blueline gave the Caps possession and the Panthers committed to Sergei Gonchar, who had the puck. Gonchar found Chris Simon cruising in from the blueline and the big winger had all the time he needed to power the puck past Kidd. The Caps had a 3-2 win and had crept closer to the Cats in the Southeast standings.
Washington outshot Florida by a 44-23 count on the night. Simon's game-winner made him the number one star while Kidd's net heroics got him the nod as the second star. Proud papa Konowalchuk got the third star with his late game-tying tally.