Photo: Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
The Washington Capitals fell to the Florida Panthers by a score of 5-1 at FLA Live Arena on Thursday as the best-of-seven 2022 Stanley Cup Playoff first-round series is now tied at one game apiece.
Goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 13 saves on 18 shots in the loss before getting pulled in favor of Ilya Samsonov, who stopped all 17 shots faced, at the start of the third period.
Capitals’ Round 1, Game 2 Lines
With right-wing Tom Wilson unavailable after leaving the first period of the Game 1 with a lower-body injury and not returning, Brett Leason made his postseason debut. He skated on the fourth-line while Garnet Hathaway bumped up to the third.
Scratched: C Connor McMichael, LW Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, LHD Matt Irwin, LHD Michal Kempny
Injured: LW Carl Hagelin (eye, missed 28th straight game, out indefinitely)
Defenseman Aaron Ekblad’s bomb bounced off of Capitals defenseman Martin Fehervary and over the blocker of Vanecek after Ekblad got a loose puck up top to open the scoring with 3:40 left in the period.
Center Aleksander Barkov touched home a cross-ice pass from left-wing Jonathan Huberdeau, who dangled around Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom and backhanded one past a sliding John Carlson, at the left post to double the Panthers’ lead 1:32 later.
The Capitals led 11-6 in shots and 24-16 in hits in the first.
The Panthers led 6-4 in blocked shots, 2-0 in takeaways, had three giveaways while the Capitals tallied 10, did not score on two power plays, and won 63% of the draws through 20 minutes.
Backstrom slid one through the five-hole of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky from the side of the net after captain Alex Ovechkin faked a slapper and fed him from up top to cut the Panthers’ lead in half on the power play at 2:44.
— Capitals Replays (@capsreplays) May 6, 2022
27 seconds later, left-wing Mason Marchment put one through the wickets of Vanecek all alone down low to finish off a four-way passing play after getting a pass from up top to restore the Panthers’ two-goal lead.
After left-wing Carter Verhaeghe broke up a Capitals’ attempted defensive zone exit at the blueline, he fed center Anton Lundell all alone down low and he executed a give-and-go with right-wing Sam Reinhart. Lundell tapped one past Vanecek to make it 4-1 with 4:36 left in the period.
Verhaeghe ripped one underneath the cross-bar and over the glove of Vanecek after getting a stretch pass from defenseman Radko Gudas at the blueline to extend the Panthers’ lead to 5-1 with 2:28 to go in the second.
The Capitals led 24-18 in shots (including 13-12 in the middle frame), 41-30 in hits, and converted once on three power plays through 40 minutes.
The Panthers led 7-1 in takeaways, 12-9 in blocked shots, had six giveaways while the Capitals were credited with 16, were held off of the board on two man advantage opportunities, and won 52% of the draws in the first two periods.
The Capitals led 60-39 in hits and converted once on three power plays.
The Panthers led 36-27 in shots (including 18-3 in the third), 11-3 in takeaways, 21-13 in blocked shots, had six giveaways while the Capitals were credited with 21, were held off of the board on four man advantage opportunities, and won 53% of the draws.
Game 3: Saturday from Capital One Arena (1 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington locally, ESPN nationally)
By Harrison Brown