Though they’re far from favorites against the powerful Florida Panthers, the Washington Capitals never fail to surprise. Washington easily won 6-1 to take a 2-1 lead.
The game had started well for the Panthers. Jonathan Huberdeau showered the fans gathered at Capital One Arena with a cold shower. The Quebecer opened the scoring after just 2:45 with a powerful wrist shot. That goal gave Huberdeau his 18th career playoff point and joined Ray Sheppard in earning the first pick in Panthers history.
However, the Caps managed to get the goal before the end of the first period. With 26 seconds left, TJ Oshie deftly parried a shot from Alexander Ovechkin to put everyone back on top.
Washington has been playing big hockey since the beginning of this series and continued their momentum in the second period. Marcus Johansson gave Australia the lead for the first time in the game. Anthony Mantha and Nicklas Backstrom got assists for the streak.
The Capitals again used the end of the third to score a big goal. Trevor van Riemsdyk had all the time in the world on top to beat Sergei Bobrovsky with a good wristshot.
Midway through the third period, Ovechkin then hit the target with a good one-timer while well-placed on the power play in his office at the top of the circle. Ovi struck a blow at the Panthers with the 72nd goal of his career in the playoffs.
4:20 in the final third, John Carlson sealed the victory for the Capitals with an empty goal. To add insult to injury, Garnet Hathaway added a sixth goal with 42 seconds left.
“We know the tide can turn quickly in the playoffs,” Oshie said. If one team wins a game, the other team will make adjustments and work twice as hard in the next game. They did that in game two and we did that in game three. »
In his first start in the series, Ilya Samsonov was solid in front of the Caps’ net with 29 saves. Samsonov came on for relief in Game 2 for Vitek Vanecek. He then stopped the 17 pucks aimed at him.
“I’m always ready,” Samsonov said. Sometimes you get the start in the playoffs, sometimes it comes down to another goalie. But you always have to be ready. If you want to triumph, you need 16 victories. »
“I think we play nervously. It’s not our way of playing and we have to find a way to be successful in certain games,” Huberdeau said after the loss.
It was more difficult on Sergei Bobrovsky’s side, as the veteran gave up five times in 30 shots. Game 4 is back on the Washington side on Monday night.
“I was frustrated,” said Andrew Brunette, interim head coach of the Panthers. When you’re frustrated, it’s often because you’re not working hard enough. Maybe it’s nervousness. But we must find a way to overcome this. »