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2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Nosedive: Capitals Let Verhaeghe, Panthers Cruise, Now Face Elimination

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Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad

Nearly halfway through the second period, it seemed like the Washington Capitals had Game 5 locked away. The team had a commanding 3-0 lead and was holding the high-octane Florida Panthers off the board. Then, things took a nosedive.

Florida piled on the pressure and completely tilted the ice, and five unanswered goals turned a seemingly surefire win into a disappointing 5-3 loss in Game 5.

Washington is now on the brink of elimination and must win Game 6 on Friday to keep the season alive as the team trails the series 3-2. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena.

Here are all the takeaways from the defeat:

Capitals Fall Apart, Let Verhaeghe, Panthers Take Control

The Capitals were in full control early on, capitalizing on a great start and dominating when it came to zone time and puck possession. Then, in the second period, things took a turn, and Washington stepped off the gas and let Florida take over.

Carter Verhaeghe got the Cats on the board soon after T.J. Oshie’s second goal made it 3-0, and minutes later, Patric Hornqvist would go on a clear-cut breakaway to pull the Panthers within one. Then, 2:14 later, a wild scramble in front allowed Sam Reinhart to tuck in the game-tying tally and make it 3-3 heading into the third period as Florida also managed to outshoot Washington 30-20.

After the intermission, the Panthers kept the momentum going, as Verhaeghe potted his second — and fourth in two games — to give Florida the lead. Claude Giroux would put the nail in the coffin with a goal off an odd-man rush in the dying minutes of the third. That goal capped off a five-point outing for Verhaeghe.

Washington couldn’t rally, and that lead ultimately held as Florida stole the game. The team was weak on coverage in front and weren’t playing smart or doing much to shut down the Cats. After stealing the momentum, the Capitals gave it all over to Florida, letting the Panthers take control in Sunrise.

It was also not an ideal outing for Ilya Samsonov. After having control to start the game and coming up with big stops, he surrendered five straight tallies and ended the night with 33 saves on 38 shots (.868 save percentage).

Oshie Continues Strong Series

Despite the loss, T.J. Oshie continued his hot streak to open these playoffs. No. 77 had two goals on the night, including his third power-play strike of the series.

The 35-year-old now has five goals in five games. He has been the highlight of this series for D.C.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Alex Ovechkin picked up an assist and now has assists in all five games this series and six points in five games.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov picked up two helpers.
  • Connor McMichael had an assist to boot. That marks his first career playoff point.
  • Tempers flared to close things out, as Anthony Mantha took out his frustrations and fought with Aaron Ekblad.
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