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Capitals Takeaways

CAPITALS SURGE: Caps Solve Bobrovsky, Florida To Steal Game 1

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Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov

Going into Game 1, the Washington Capitals were considered major underdogs against the top-ranked Florida Panthers. And in just 10 minutes, they eliminated a lot of doubt and obliterated predictions of a sweep.

Washington rode an outstanding surge in the third period, along with a standout game from Vitek Vanecek, to a major 4-2 victory over Florida in Game 1. The Capitals lead the series 1-0.

Here are all the takeaways from the defeat:

Kuznetsov, Oshie Play Hero As Capitals Finally Solve Bobrovsky In Third

Going into the third, Washington was trailing 2-1 and appeared to not have an answer for Sergei Bobrovsky, who had nearly all the answers and several 10-bell saves to shut down the Capitals forecheck following an early PPG from Tom Wilson. However, Washington’s top-6 was able to respond in the third, and ultimately, win the game.

Alex Ovechkin did outstanding work in the neutral zone, stripping MacKenzie Weegar of the puck and getting it forward to Evgeny Kuznetsov for the breakaway. No. 92 made no mistake, dangling and putting the puck past Bob to make it 2-2 just roughly eight minutes into the third.

It marked Kuznetsov’s 28th career playoff goal, and his fourth against Bobrovsky. Meanwhile, Ovechkin’s 55th playoff assist marked his 136th postseason point, good for third among all active players.

Washington wasn’t done there. The Capitals continued to put on the pressure, and just 2:23 later, used their speed to their advantage. T.J. Oshie crashed the net and tipped a picture-perfect, on-the-tape pass from Nicklas Backstrom past Bobrovsky to make it 3-2 with under 10 minutes remaining in regulation time.

Oshie’s 29th career tally was also his 24th with Washington. Since 2015-16, those 24 goals rank second on the team behind Ovechkin’s 35. Meanwhile, Backstrom’s helper was the 73rd of his postseason career and leads the franchise all-time.

Lars Eller later sealed the deal with an empty-net goal.

Vitek Vanecek Stands Tall For Capitals, Nabs First Playoff Victory

Up until the morning of Game 1, the Capitals goaltending remained a major question mark, and ultimately, Peter Laviolette rewarded Vanecek with the start in Game 1. He did not disappoint, and had a huge game for his first ever postseason win.

Vanecek was playing a smart game, controlling the tempo and coming up with a few big saves. He stopped 30 of 32 shots (.938 save percentage) and stopped all 12 shots against the swarming Panthers in the final 20 minutes of regulation time.

Overall, the Czech netminder looked poise and confident, and remained calm and collected throughout the game. The defence also played a decent game in front of him, and the penalty kill came up big to boot.

Tom Wilson Stays Hot In Postseason, But Suffers Apparent Injury

Washington suffered a major loss early on in Game 1, as Wilson exited the game early with an apparent injury. The 28-year-old took a stick up high early on and went back to the bench bleeding. He then struck on the power play to open the scoring for Washington, but soonafter, he went in for a hit on Weegar and missed before going awkwardly into the boards.

Wilson went down and subsequently exited the game. And though he returned to the bench and got to take a twirl during a TV time out, he did not play another shift.

The power forward skated just 1:31 minutes. His status remains up in the air.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Anthony Mantha had an outstanding game, leading the way with his first playoff point for Washington early on. He led the team with five shots (tied with Eller) and a whopping 10 hits.
  • Ovechkin appeared to be fine after missing the final three games of the regular season with an upper-body injury and also brought his A-Game. He managed four shots and was moving his feet and showing great speed.
  • Dmitry Orlov also picked up an assist and has points in his last two postseason contests.
  • Conor Sheary looked solid on the top line.
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