Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov didn’t experience the full dry spell of the Florida Panthers, who hadn’t made the second round of the playoffs since 1996, but the relief was there for both forwards.
After Carter Verhaeghe’s liberating goal in overtime to give the Panthers a Game 6 win over the Washington Capitals, both players were careful to ensure that the win was just a step toward the ultimate goal of significance.
“It’s a load off our shoulders. We lost last year and this year we just had to win. It happened today. Might as well go all the way now. We’re starting the second round now,” said Huberdeau, who has been with the team since the 2012/13 season.
“It’s incredible! I don’t realize it yet. Since I started my career here, I’ve never gotten past the second round. We still have a lot to do and we’ll get back to work tomorrow,” said Barkov, who, like his teammate, was in a Panthers uniform played a fourth series.
“I hope it’s a relief for players who have been here a long time like Barkov, Ekblad and Huberdeau. They have to be comfortable and it will take the pressure off them, probably a little too much,” said head coach Andrew Brunette.
Giroux finds his captain alone
Although he has only just joined the ranks of the Panthers, Claude Giroux sensed what this victory could mean for the organisation. The forward fully contributed to this success with a goal and two assists in Game 6, including the one that set up the winning goal. In the dressing room with his teammates, he felt the excitement after expecting to win a series.
“I feel it! The players spoke about it, but not negatively. We wanted to continue and we’re in the second round. We have momentum and now we have to stay focused,” he stressed.
Each of the people who appeared before reporters after the game refused to speculate too much about the possible second-round clash that will be against the winner of the series between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The seventh game of this confrontation takes place on Saturday.
Panthers 4 – Capitals 3 (Expansion)