Washington (AFP) – The Returning Cats are back in playoff format.
Known for their penchant for playing from behind and winning on the way to the best regular season in the NHL, the Florida Panthers finally delivered a little of that post-season magic, and it’s not too late a minute.
Sam Reinhart tied late in the regulations, overtime winner Carter Verhagé scored and the President’s Cup-winning Panthers beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 in Game 4 Monday night to tie the first-round series.
No team has achieved more than 24 comeback wins in Florida this season, and now has the home ice advantage again at Game 5 Wednesday night at Sunrise.
Interim coach Andio Brunet said: “I feel very confident that they will achieve something. They have done it all year and continue to do it tonight.”
The Panthers were only two minutes away from facing the possibility of their loss at home. Then, with goalkeeper Sergei Bobrovsky pulling an extra striker, Reinhart collected a loose puck after bouncing off Capitals striker Garnet Hathaway and beating Ilya Samsonov with 2:04 left in the third.
“That’s the kind of situation you want to be in a hockey player,” Reinhart said. “It’s a game that can go either way eventually and we stuck with it and are happy with the result.”
The brunette was glad that he did not invite Bobrovsky to the bench sooner. The two-time Vezina Cup winner saved Marcus Johansson’s right-hand cup with a left of 3:24-15 seconds before pulling off and a few bouts before Reinhart scored.
“It’s great to be back there,” said Reinhart. “He’s been solid on all the shows and gives us all the confidence in the world to put on the plays.”
Given the combination of nerves and playoff inexperience that contributed to Florida’s struggles in the series, Reinhart’s goal may have saved the season. Verhaeghe’s second goal in the match 4:57 in overtime gave the Panthers an extra boost of adrenaline on the return trip.
said Verheig, who played eight games in the 2020 play-off bubbles at Tampa Bay Lightning when they won their first consecutive Stanley Cup titles. “It’s just kind of a building block. We know we have another level to go to, and we’re a great team, so I think it’s just building some confidence.
The Panthers outperformed the Capitals 32-16 and are looking to find their game even amid some difficulties in finishing. They went 0-for-4 in strong play to make it 0-for-13 in the series and couldn’t put a puck in the net at 5 on 5. Verhaeghe’s first goal came at 4 on 4.
Washington let a late lead slip away with a 2-1 lead on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s goal with 10:29 left in the standings. TJ Oshie scored a Power-play goal in the first for the Capitals, who haven’t won back-to-back playoffs until 2019.
“In the end, it was bad bounces and falls,” said Captain Alex Ovechkin. “It’s going to be a long and hard streak, so keep going. Forget it, move on.”
Holding on was giving the capitals a chance to weed out the Panthers on Wednesday. The supremacy up front is a blow to a team that already plays without right winger Tom Wilson and now needs to win at least one more time on the road.
“In the third period, everything was in our hands,” said Kuznetsov. “We are going to play the top three at the moment. There is no panic. There is still a good chance.”
The Panthers feel the same way after being recaptured in a series that saw teams win. But they try to stay even casual due to the high expectations they have to do the running and climbing they have to do to tie things up.
“Happy to be home even in the 2-2 series,” said Captain Alexander Barkov. “Just keep working. Keep improving. Keep looking for ways to win.”
Notes: The brunette hopes the NHL’s Player Safety Department will consider Oshie’s strike on Sam Bennett before Kuznetsov scores. “I didn’t like the hit,” he said. “I thought it was targeted in the head.” … The Panthers stayed in the same lineup 1-3 matches, but they moved some players up front and in defence.
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