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2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Best Of Three: Capitals Come Up Short In Tough OT Loss As Cats Tie Series

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Capitals Panthers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Washington Capitals waited on the bench as the Florida Panthers flooded the ice at Capital One Arena after Carter Verhaeghe’s overtime winner, hoping a review for goaltender interference would go their way and preserve their chance of eking out a win and taking a 3-1 series lead to Sunrise. However, things didn’t go according to plan, and it led to the series turning into a best-of-three.

It was a chippy, intense showdown from the moment the puck dropped between the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers for Game 4. Pushing and shoving escalated into scrums and multiple penalties across the board. Washington had appeared close to escaping with a victory after Evgeny Kuznetsov scored a go-ahead goal in the third, but Sam Reinhart responded with a late game-tying tally to force sudden-death overtime.

And ultimately, it was a lack of all-around offense and poor coverage in front that led to a disappointing 3-2 loss. The series is now tied 2-2.

Here are all the takeaways from the defeat:

Lack Of Offense, Slow Second Sink Capitals

When it came to scoring opportunities, the Capitals couldn’t get much going on the forecheck. They were limited on their opportunities and saw some of their developing plays broken up and handled well by the Cats’ backcheck. Ultimately, Washington ended the night with just 16 shots on goal.

“We have to play more over there, and we have to support each other and get some more zone time,” Kuznetsov said. “I felt like in the third period, it was little better. We’ll make some adjustments for sure and move on from there.”

Kuznetsov did break through with the temporary go-ahead goal in the third, thanks to great work and vision by Alex Ovechkin in the neutral zone and buried a beautiful breakaway goal in the third to break the tie. He now has two goals in this series, both on breakaways.

With the helper, Ovechkin moved up to four assists in as many games and has five points through four games. Also, he now has 50 points in his last 48 playoff outings overall.

Beyond Oshie and Kuznetsov, though, Washington failed to get much going on the forecheck. Plus, a weak second period that saw the Capitals outshot 12-4 proved costly.

Special Teams Proves To Be Vital For Capitals

Lars Eller had said before the game that the team was putting on a show on the PK, but was looking to avoid being in the box too much against the high-octane Panthers. However, that was far from the case in Game 4, as almost anything and everything got called.

Still, the penalty kill came up huge, with Washington coming up with clutch blocks, smart reads and also getting big saves from Ilya Samsonov. The Capitals went 4-for-4 on the kill, and the Florida power play has continued to go without a power-play goal in this series after finishing the 2021-22 regular season with the fifth-best PP in the league. The Cats are now 0-for-13.

Despite getting a goal, the power play still has work to do. Washington went 1-for-5 on the night, and also couldn’t capitalize on a 5-on-3 for the second time this postseason. Meanwhile, they managed just four shots on those opportunities.

Oshie, Backstrom Continue To String Together Strong Series

Washington continued to get a strong performance from its stars, Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom continue to be difference makers. Oshie opened the scoring with his third goal of the series — and his second power-play goal in as many games — on a great tip in front.

Not only that, he’s bringing speed and energy to the table for the Capitals, and also played a key role on the penalty kill, coming up with clutch blocks. He also had five hits on the night.

“In terms of Osh, he’s a big player for us, and he’s a hell of a guy in the locker room,” Kuznetsov said. “For us, it’s always nice to have him on the ice. Off the ice, he’s the type of guy you want to have around.”

Meanwhile, Backstrom tagged on an assist and now has a point in all four games so far. In total, he has five points through four games. He also did a solid job at both ends of the ice.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • John Carlson had quite the game, picking up his third helper of the postseason and also having a scary moment where he took a puck to the chin. He left the game for repairs in the second but quickly returned once the bleeding came to a stop. Carlson led the way with three shots and 25:01 minutes of ice time.
  • Oshie got away with a questionable high hit on Sam Bennett in the second. Something to watch out for, as Kuznetsov was recently fined for an uncalled high stick on Noel Acciari in Game 3.
  • Despite the loss, Samsonov stood tall with quite a few big saves. He ended the night with 29 saves on 32 shots (.906 save percentage) and gave Washington a chance to win. It’s also hard to blame him for the goals, as the first came off poor coverage, the second was fluky and in the midst of chaos in front and the GWG was a controversial tally where he had little opportunity to make a save.
  • Head coach Peter Laviolette thought there was goalie interference on that OT winner: “I’m not sure what it is. They said that Lars helped him in there. I thought Lars was trying ot get him out of there. A goaltender’s got to be able to make a save.”

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