Panthers beat Caps 4-3 in overtime win, ends 26-year playoffs drought
May 14, 2022
On Friday night, a 4-3 overtime victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 6 on Friday night ended Florida Panther's 26-year playoff series drought. Since reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996, the Panthers had not won a playoff series.
"We didn't know how it felt, we might as well go all the way." said Jonathan Huberdeau, Panther's left-winger who scored three points in the series against Washington.
As a result of Carter Verhaeghe's overtime game-winner, Florida advances to the second round, where it will face the winner of the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Toronto Maple Leafs. On Saturday at 7 p.m. E.T., Game 7 of the series will be held.
While Florida finally won a playoff series, Washington keeps being bounced. The loss has made four consecutive first-round exits for Washington, who haven't advanced in the playoffs since winning a Stanley Cup in 2018.
"[It's] a kinda f---ed up situation," said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. "I think you see how we played against the best team in the regular season. We have it, but we just blow it away. It is on us. It is on me, on [Nicklas Backstrom], on [T.J. Oshie], on [John Carlson]. It is on everybody."
"We basically gave the series to them," added Backstrom.
Panthers vs. Capitals game takeaways
With a goal, Nic Dowd put the Capitals up early in the second period. Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky blocked his initial attempt after it hit the post. After everyone else had stopped, Dowd scored on a rebound to give the Capitals an early 1-0 lead.
Following Dowd's goal, the Panthers came storming back and tied the game less than three minutes later on a goal by Ryan Lomberg.
Lomberg, who had not played since Game 1, scored on a rebound in the second period to reclaim the momentum from the Capitals and tie the game. Both teams' fourth lines scored quickly to put them on the board.
Despite the Panthers' dominance, Washington was able to hold on to conclude the period. However, the score remained 1-1 after 40 minutes.
In the third period, Claude Giroux scored a goal to tie the game 2-2 after Nicklas Backstrom had given Washington a 2-1 lead earlier.
The Panthers went ahead 3-2 just a few moments later on Aleksander Barkov's goal. With 5:43 remaining in the match, he scored a rebound goal to defeat Samsonov. In the last 63-second to play, T.J. Oshie tied the game and forced overtime.
Panthers tough winning
Even though the Panthers won against the Capitals, the Capitals didn't make it easy on Florida.
The Capitals began the playoffs as the eighth seed, and their first opponent was the team that had just won the Presidents' Trophy. The offense of Florida was so dominant from the beginning of the season that they set a new record for their franchise by scoring 122 points.
Nevertheless, the Capitals gave the Panthers everything they could handle and seized a 2-1 series lead after Game 3.
When Washington defeated Florida in Game 2 and Game 3, the Capitals put a strain on Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and tested the Lightning's high-octane forwards to the limit. After a 3-0 advantage in Game 5, the Capitals' performance slipped away, finally losing to Florida.
For the Panthers, Game 5 was a game-changing play. Game 5 gave them the advantage, but it also dampened some of Washington's rising self-confidence ahead of a pivotal Game 6 at their own building.