Scott Clemmensen's fate rests not in his hands, but on Tim Thomas' troublesome lower body.

Clemmensen stopped 23 of the 25 shots he faced before denying Washington in its final six shootout attempts as Florida outlasted the Capitals for a 3-2 win on Friday. Now 1-2 with a 3.42 goals-against average and a .870 save percentage for the Panthers, Clemmensen took satisfaction in the season's long-awaited first win.

He knows, though, that as soon as Thomas, out for the third time this season with a lower-body injury, is healthy, the two-time Vezina Trophy winner who won a Stanley Cup in 2011 with Boston will be back in the net, and Clemmensen will be back on the bench.

"Obviously as a goalie, as a player, you want to play all the time, but understanding where you fit in is part of it as well," Clemmensen after Saturday morning's practice at the Saveology Iceplex. "It doesn't mean that I'm complacent or I don't get the itch or I'm not competitive. It means that you understand your role to be ready when called upon."

Clemmensen, New Jersey's eighth-round pick in 1997 who's been with the Panthers since the 2009-10 season, played a similar role backing up four-time Vezina winner and three-time Stanley Cup champion Martin Brodeur.

"I don't take it that they don't have confidence in me," Clemmensen said. "When you've got a guy like Timmy, then you play him a lot."

Thomas, 9-10 in 21 starts with the Panthers with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage, will travel with Florida (11-17-5) for Sunday's game at Montreal (19-11-3), the start of a four-game Canada swing. Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek hopes Thomas can return during the road trip, but has confidence in both Clemmensen and Jacob Markstrom, who was recalled from San Antonio after Thomas left Thursday's practice with the injury.