This week is all too familiar for the Washington Capitals.
It started with allowing a goal in the final minutes of the game and culminated in a fourth overtime loss. Then came Wednesday’s fiasco, with the veteran Capitals giving up five unresolved goals to go 3-0.
The host Capitals completed a terrifying three-game winning streak Friday, taking a 2-1 lead in the third quarter to a 4-3 loss to the top-seeded Florida Panthers and a 4-2 series loss . The loss also marked the fourth straight year the Capitals ended with a first-round playoff exit.
Carter Verhaeghe scored the game-winning goal in overtime — his second series since Game 4. Aleksander Barkov gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead in the third quarter, but TJ Oshie’s goal with 1:03 left kept the Capitals alive.
The game started slowly, with neither side scoring in the first quarter. But the second goal started to drop as Washington and Florida rebounded less than three minutes apart.
Nic Dowd draws the first blood with a rebound of his own shot. Garnet Hathaway found Dowd from behind the net with his first shot hitting the crossbar and rebounding in the crease. The four-line center then pounced on the puck and flicked it past Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky for his first goal of the series.
Ryan Lomborg equalized for the Panthers after clearing a Patrick Hornquist shot that Washington goalie Ilya Samsonoff saved but could not save. Samsonov got the start of Game 6 despite giving up five goals in the final two quarters of Wednesday’s game to squander the Capitals’ 3-0 lead. The 25-year-old Russian earned the starting spot for Vitek Vanecek, who started the first two games of the series, and Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said Thursday that he doesn’t think Samsonov has let the team go. Disappointed in Game 5.
Florida followed Lomborg’s goal and had multiple good chances to score in the second quarter as Hornquist shot from the crossbar halfway and the Panthers then failed to score by man advantage — their 18th straight air effort Play to open the series.
Just as the Capitals went strong and scored early in the second quarter, Nicklas Backstrom scored just 1:37 of the third to give Washington a 2-1 lead. Justin Schultz flicked a high wrist to the net and the 34-year-old Swede redirected the puck to Bobrovski into the top right corner of the cage.
But Claude Giroud, who scored and assisted in Florida State’s sixth game, nullified Beckstrom’s goal with a ball of his own seven minutes later. Aaron Ekblad found an undiscovered Giroux, the former Flyers star who was traded to the Panthers at the deadline, streaking on the ice and Samsonov wasn’t fast enough to stop Giroux’s wrist.
Barkov then gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead with 5:43 left – a goal 22 seconds after Dodd bounced off the crossbar and nearly scored his second. . Barkov was assisted by a flick from Samsonov near the crease from Giroud, who took control of the puck after a rebound and found an open Barkov.
Oshie’s goal of dragging the game into overtime came after Florida gave Washington a power game with 1:09 left as Laviolette pulled Samsono about a minute earlier Husband, the Capitals lead 6-4. Oshie, who scored six goals in the series, kept his head in the crease and knocked the bouncing puck into the net to drag the game into overtime.
Verhaeghe scored the game-winning goal with just 2:46 of extra time when he backhanded the ball into the back of the net, leaving Samsonov on the ice in disbelief, stunned the capital fans.