After a strong Game 1, and arguably a decent 10 minutes to open Game 2, the Washington Capitals suffered a major meltdown, and it proved costly against the high-flying Florida Panthers, who got back to their style of play.
Florida dominated all over the ice and made the most of its chances, and ultimately, dominated for a 5-1 victory in Game 2. The series is now tied 1-1 as Round One goes back to D.C. for Games 3 and 4.
Here are all the takeaways from a tough night in Sunrise.
Vanecek Pulled As Capitals Collapse, Samsonov Strong In Relief
Right up until the start of the postseason, the Capitals faced questions with regard to their situation between the pipes, and those questions may rise up again after a rough go-of-it that led to Vitek Vanecek’s early exit from Game 2.
Vanecek had a tough night in net, surrendering five goals on 18 shots (.722 save percentage). Granted, the defense in front of him was lackluster as Washington had 18 giveaways. The Panthers were able to pounce on turnovers and get bounces to go their way as well. However, he surrendered three goals on 12 shots and within minutes of each other in the second, and Washington was left trailing 5-1 after 40.
Reinhart and Lundell combine to give the Panthers a 4-1 lead. The play starts with Verhaeghe's keep in. pic.twitter.com/ACmc06gShO
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) May 6, 2022
Ilya Samsonov came out to start the third period and, despite a lackluster all-around game for D.C., he was great in relief. The 25-year-old stopped all 17 shots faced, and given the way the game went, will likely start Game 3.
Bobrovsky Stands Tall As Capitals Can’t Get Much Going On Forecheck
Despite a strong showing in Game 1, Sergei Bobrovsky was eager to rebound in Game 2, and he shut the door on the Capitals in Game 2.
Washington saw its fair share of chances, but Bobrovsky had a response for almost every single one. Nicklas Backstrom scored the lone goal of the game on a second-period power play to pull the Capitals within one, but Mason Marchment quickly responded to restore the two-goal lead.
The man advantage went 1-for-3, and the team also missed a major opportunity on a four-minute power play in the second period that could have given them a chance to get back in the game. The momentum wasn’t there, though.
Ultimately, Florida got a strong performance on defense and was able to slow down Washington upfront. Ultimately, the Cats were able to get back to their style of play, capitalizing on turnovers and their scoring chances. The Panthers also did a good job in the neutral zone and won their battles, while also playing with more speed and urgency.
In the end, the Capitals couldn’t match Florida. They ended up being outshot in the final frame 17-3 while being steamrolled by the Presidents’ Trophy winners.
Tom Wilson’s Absence Looms Large For Capitals
Washington came into Game 2 hoping to fill a major void on the forward lines with Tom Wilson injured, but his absence was quite noticeable. Without No. 43, the Capitals appeared to be missing a lot of speed and grit going on the forecheck. Not to mention, the team also missed his defensive play to boot, although the penalty kill went 2-for-2.
Wilson is currently day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Getting him back for Game 3 will be vital as Washington may have to tweak the forward lines again. Brett Leason came up from Hershey on Thursday to help fill Wilson’s void. However, the 6-5 forward skated just seven minutes and was a minus-1. He had one hit.
Laviolette listed Wilson as day-to-day, and hopefully, he will be ready to go for Game 3.
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- Alex Ovechkin picked up his second assist of the playoffs. He has points in back-to-back games.
- Washington did play a physical game, managing 60 hits over Florida’s 38. Garnet Hathaway led the charge with nine, while Alex Ovechkin had six and Martin Fehervary, Lars Eller and T.J. Oshie ended the night with five.