NHL Playoffs: Capitals topple Panthers in 3rd period and deliver 1st bat

SUMMARY

SUNRISE, Fla. – The Washington Capitals came down three goals in the third half to defeat the Florida Panthers 4-2 in Game 1 of their NHL first-round series on Tuesday.

TJ Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov flashed red lights twice in two minutes and 23 seconds, giving the Capitals the lead for the remaining ten minutes of the duel.

“It’s just a game,” said Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette. Our boys worked hard tonight. We need to come to our senses tomorrow and get back to work. »

The Presidents’ Trophy champion had not lost in regulation this season, having led by two-thirds through tonight. The Panthers were 22-0-0 at home and 39-0-1 overall in these scenarios.

“They locked us in and we didn’t make the necessary adjustments,” said Panthers coach Andrew Brunette. We were a bit slow in possession. I felt that we were slow and that our fighting spirit wasn’t up to par. We must learn lessons from this. »

“Basically we made two costly turnovers and couldn’t even the game. They persevered, weathered the storm and orchestrated their own. They had a great game on the road,” he continued.

Vitek Vanecek made 30 saves in the win. Ilya Samsonov, who shared the net with Vanecek throughout the campaign, served as a backup.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 34 shots for the Panthers. Spencer Knight, who scored for games 5 and 6 of his 2020-21 series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, was benched.

“Bob played an excellent match,” assured Brunette. He kept us in the game in the first half. Unfortunately we didn’t give him enough chances to get the win for us in the end. »

The second matchup will take place in Florida on Thursday.

Tom Wilson pounced on the returning Anthony Mantha shot to put the Capitals ahead early in the game.

Sam Bennett leveled the game with an accurate shot late in the first period.

Seconds into the middle section, Claude Giroux expertly picked a return to slide the puck into a gaping cage. Jonathan Huberdeau and Brandon Montour became network accomplices.

In the third half, MacKenzie Weegar tried to get out of the zone by carrying the puck into the middle of the ice, but Alex Ovechkin shoulder-poked him, knocking him down. His fall allowed Kuznetsov to escape and the Capitals center hit Bobrovsky with a shot in the top corner.

Just two minutes later, Oshie redirected Nicklas Backstrom’s pass behind Bobrovsky and restored the lead for the Capitals.

“It’s Nicky’s trademark. He made an overhand pass that went between a defender’s legs and landed right on my paddle, Oshie said. I just redirected it. I didn’t see the puck go in so he had to come and tell me we hit. »

Lars Eller finished the job with an empty goal.

Nice defensive play by Ovechkin, Kuznetsov takes advantage of it

Oshie breaks the deadlock in the middle of 3rd place

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