Capitals Take 1-0 Series Lead Over Florida Panthers: Things to Note From Washington’s Game 1 Victory

Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals took a 1-0 lead in their first round playoff series against the Florida Panthers, with a gritty 4-2 victory in Sunrise, Florida on Tuesday night.

While the team lost right wing Tom Wilson to an lower-body injury after he put the Caps on the board early in the first period, the visitors bounced back to hold the Panthers to just two goals on the night. Some key notes from the first postseason contest from Head Coach Peter Laviolette’s club.

V+V=W
While the Caps faced a number of questions on their goaltending at times throughout the regular season, the performance of Vitek Vanecek in the final weeks of the regular season earned him the confidence of Laviolette for the first postseason contest. In Game 1, the 26-year old goalie matched his opposite Sergei Bobrovsky (who stonewalled the Caps on a number of occasions to keep the Cats in the contest) to earn his first career playoff win.

The 2014 second-round pick recorded 30 saves on 32 Panthers shots and finished the game with a .938 Save Percentage, including 26 of 28 shots at even-strength.

When Stanley is At Stake, the Players Will Wake

Among the goal-scorers for the Capitals in their victory in Game 1 were Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, and T.J. Oshie, the latter of whom recorded the game-winning goal on a beautiful feed from Nicklas Backstrom.

A number of the players in the Caps’ lineup are proven postseason performers, with remarkable consistency offensively. Oshie’s game-winning goal marked his sixth game-deciding goal since 2016, ranking him sixth in the NHL in that timeframe.

Additionally, Oshie ranks second on the Capitals in postseason goals, having notched 24 of his 29 career playoff goals since joining the Caps; only captain Alex Ovechkin ranks ahead of him with 35.

While he left the game with an injury, Wilson’s first period goal marked his sixth consecutive postseason appearance with a goal, and his 14th overall. In Kuznetsov’s case, he has had good fortune against Bobrovsky in the playoffs, scoring his fourth goal against Bobrovsky in the postseason (and 28th career postseason goal overall) to tie the game at 2-2.

OTHER ICE SHAVINGS

  • Alex Ovechkin’s assist on Kuznetsov’s goal marked his 136th career playoff point, which ranks him third among active players
  • Lars Eller scored his 15th career playoff goal, which was also his 47th career postseason point. His 47 career points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs lead all Danish players.
  • Nicklas Backstrom’s assist on T.J. Oshie’s goal gave him his franchise-leading 73rd postseason assist.
  • The Capitals are now 30-21 all-time in Game 1’s, and 10-9 when playing a Game 1 on the road.
  • The last time the Caps began the postseason as the visiting team was in the 2012 postseason, in which they defeated the then-defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in seven games.

The Capitals and Panthers square off in Game 2 on Thursday, May 5.

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography, watching WildEarth TV's SafariLive live safaris, and watching animals in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
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2 Responses to Capitals Take 1-0 Series Lead Over Florida Panthers: Things to Note From Washington’s Game 1 Victory

  1. Marky says:

    That’s playoff winning hockey!! Woooooo!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    What a great game.

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