Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images
The Washington Capitals finished the regular season as the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card and will play the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers in the first-round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Panthers will have home ice in the best-of-seven series.
Which day the series will start has yet to be determined.
The Capitals finished the regular-season 1-1-1 against the Panthers and were outscored 13-12 in those games. They have not played since the Panthers stormed back from a 4-1 deficit in the third period at FLA Live Arena on November 30 to win 5-4 in regulation.
The Capitals did not have center Nicklas Backstrom or right-wing T.J. Oshie in any regular-season games against the Panthers due to injury and left-wing Anthony Mantha played just 7:03 before sustaining a shoulder injury that required surgery and kept him out for four months. Left-wing Conor Sheary and Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov each also missed two of those games.
Since the last time the two teams faced on another, the Panthers, who averaged an NHL-high 4.09 goals-per-game during the regular season, added defenseman Ben Chiarot, defenseman Robert Hagg, and center Claude Giroux.
This is the first time that the two former Southeast Division foes will meet in the postseason.
The Panthers have not won a postseason series since they went to the 1996 Stanley Cup Final. The Capitals have not won one since hoisting their lone Stanley Cup in franchise history in 2018.
The other first-round series in the Eastern Conference will feature the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins, and Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning. Out west, the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues in addition to the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings will hook up in round one.
By Harrison Brown