WASHINGTON, D.C. — Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin sits before the media after a deflating 3-2 OT loss to the Florida Panthers in Game 4, and in three words, sent a message to his group while working to put a tough Game 4 defeat in the rearview as quickly as possible.
“We not panicking,” he said of the team’s mentality this postseason.
Ovechkin and the Capitals know that the stakes are high against the high-octane Panthers and that this first round wasn’t going to be simple. After all, Washington entered as the underdog as the eighth seed taking on the Presidents’ Trophy winner. Still, on Monday, the Capitals had the chance to take a 3-1 series lead back to Sunrise and nearly did in a chippy showdown that featured too much time in the box and a lack of pressure on the forecheck. However, Sam Reinhart forced overtime with just over two minutes left in regulation before Carter Verhaeghe won it in sudden death OT.
Now, the series is tied 2-2 and is headed back to Sunrise, and Ovechkin and Washington are ready to take things game-by-game and put that performance behind them heading back to Sunrise for Game 5.
“At the end, it was bad bounces and goes in, but you know, how I said, it’s going to be tough, long series,” Ovechkin said. “So move on. Forget about it and move on.”
“In third period, it was everything in our hands. Eventually, that’s how it is,” Evgeny Kuznetsov added. “We’re going to play best-of-three right now. There is no panic. Still pretty good chance.”
READ MORE ON WHN: Everything To Know As Capitals Fall To Panthers In Game 4, 3-2 (OT)
When it comes to doing the right things, Washington wants to continue to perform well on special teams. The penalty kill has been perfect thus far as the top-ranked Cats power play has gone 0-for-13 to open the series. However, the team also emphasized the need to play disciplined and stay out of the box, while also getting the power play back on track.
The Capitals have also been playing physical and getting strong showings from stars in Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, along with the likes of secondary scorers in Anthony Mantha and Marcus Johansson, who are helping to fill the void left by an injured Tom Wilson, who remains day-to-day.
“Obviously, he’s one of the leader in the locker room and on the ice, but it’s the playoffs, right? Anything can happen. That’s why we have different players who take responsibility, take his spot and play those tough minutes… everybody have to be ready for it,” Ovechkin added of Wilson’s absence.
And with regard to the goaltending, Ilya Samsonov continues to impress and has been stellar since drawing into the series. He has come up with quite a few big stops over the last couple of outings as he looks to prove his worth as a full-time No. 1 for Washington.
Ultimately, the Capitals hope all of those strengths will work to their advantage going forward. Washington held an optional skate before taking off for Florida for Game 5 on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. While the Capitals are staying optimistic, they are also staying realistic and trying not to let the missed opportunity to go up 3-1 linger in their minds.
“It’s not gonna go your way every night… you can’t hang your heads. It’s a new day today and we’ve got some important games coming up here. We’ll learn from it and get back to work tomorrow,” defenseman Justin Schultz said.