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News & Analysis

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals
Recap

Carter Verhaeghe's OT heroics help Panthers eliminate Capitals

May 14, 2022, 3:18 AM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Carter Verhaeghe's goal 2:46 into overtime gave the Florida Panthers a series-clinching 4-3 victory over the host Washington Capitals in Game 6 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.

Coming off a franchise-record and NHL-high 122 points in the regular season, Florida won its first postseason series since the 1996 Eastern Conference finals, the longest playoff drought of any team in the NHL.

After losing their last seven postseason series, the Panthers are headed to the second round to face the winner of the series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Verhaeghe also scored the overtime winner in Game 4, adding to a spectacular series for the Panthers forward. With a goal and an assist in Game 6, Verhaeghe led all players with 12 points (six goals, six assists) in the series.

Verhaeghe was a game-time decision to even take the ice in Game 6, after missing the morning skate with an undisclosed injury.

Claude Giroux had a goal and two assists, fueling the Panthers' third consecutive comeback win. With the Capitals leading 2-1 through 48 minutes of play, Giroux equalized at 8:18 of the third period, then recorded helpers on both Aleksander Barkov's go-ahead goal and Verhaeghe's overtime winner.

Ryan Lomberg scored the Panthers' other goal. Lomberg was making his first appearance in the lineup since Game 1.

Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 34 of 37 shots for his 17th career playoff victory.

Nic Dowd, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie all scored for Washington, with all three players coming close to hero status. Dowd hit two posts in the third period, Backstrom's third-period goal gave the Capitals the lead, and Oshie forced overtime with a power-play marker with 63 seconds left in regulation.

The Panthers won the series despite Washington's domination of the special teams battle. Florida was 0-for-18 on the power play during the series, while the Capitals were 7-for-24 with the extra attacker.

Since winning the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, the Capitals have been eliminated in the first round in each of the last four seasons.

Ilya Samsonsov stopped 27 of 31 shots for the Capitals.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at Florida Panthers
Preview

Rallying Panthers look to finish off Caps

May 12, 2022, 6:23 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

After yet another big comeback win, the Florida Panthers are on the verge of their first postseason series victory in 26 years Friday night as they visit the Washington Capitals for Game 6 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.

The Panthers hold a 3-2 lead in the series, which seemed unlikely when they had fallen behind 3-0 after 26 minutes of play in Game 5. Florida scored five unanswered goals to claim the pivotal victory.

Carter Verhaeghe recorded two goals and three assists. The five-point performance was a personal best for Verhaeghe, setting a Panthers record for points in a single playoff game.

The forward also scored two goals in Game 4, including the overtime winner in Florida's 3-2 victory.

"Back-to-back games like that, tonight with the five points, and (Verhaeghe was) a big part of every goal and every play we made," Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette said. "It takes everybody to step up, and it was his turn here the last few games. Hopefully he keeps it rolling. We talked last game about how vital he is to the way we play, and he was relentless all night."

Game 5 was another example of how the high-scoring Panthers seemingly can't be counted out. During the regular season, the Panthers set an NHL record with five wins in games they trailed by at least three goals.

The Capitals had been only 2:04 away from a 3-1 series lead before Sam Reinhart's late equalizer in Game 4. Now, Washington will need to win on Friday just to keep its season alive.

In the view of Washington coach Peter Laviolette, "there were two games that were played" during Game 5.

"There was the game to push it to 3-0 where I liked everything we did ... and then there was the game that took place after that," Laviolette said. "If you play against a team like Florida that is a high-octane team, we're just feeding them and we can't. We've got to get back to that first part of that game, and you've got to play it consistently for 60 minutes."

Another dichotomy exists between even-strength play and special teams play in the series. Florida has outscored Washington by a 15-8 margin at even strength, but the Capitals are a perfect 16-for-16 in penalty kills. The Capitals are 6-for-20 on the power play, scoring at least once with the extra attacker in every game.

Washington goalie Ilya Samsonov stopped 33 of 38 shots in Game 5, playing every minute since replacing Vitek Vanecek prior to the third period of Game 2. Despite the shaky performance on Wednesday, Samsonov still has a 2.68 goals against average for the series, and could be favored to start again.

Sergei Bobrovsky is likely to make his sixth straight start for Florida.

Florida's Mason Marchment is questionable after missing Game 5 with an undisclosed injury.

Capitals forward Tom Wilson is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, sidelined since suffering the injury early in Game 1.

The Panthers are winless in their last seven postseason series and haven't won a playoff series since reaching the Stanley Cup Final 1996, when they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche.

The 24-season drought without a series victory is the longest of any team in the NHL.

If necessary, Game 7 is scheduled for Sunday in Sunrise, Florida.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames
News

Stars' Jamie Benn, Caps' Evgeny Kuznetsov each fined $5K

May 8, 2022, 5:09 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The NHL fined the Dallas Stars' Jamie Benn and the Washington Capitals' Evgeny Kuznetsov $5,000 each on Sunday for high-sticking violations in Saturday's playoff games.

The fines are the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement. Neither forward was penalized in their respective games.

Benn, the Dallas captain, was fined for high-sticking Calgary Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane during the Stars' 4-2 home win in Game 3. The Stars have a 2-1 lead in the first-round series, which resumes Monday with Game 4 in Dallas.

Benn, 32, has not scored in the series. He had 46 points (18 goals, 28 assists) in 82 games in the regular season.

Kuznetsov was fined for high-sticking Florida Panthers forward Noel Acciari during the Capitals' 6-1 home win in Game 3. Washington leads the first-round series 2-1 and hosts Game 4 on Monday night.

Kuznetsov, 29, has one goal in the series. He tallied 78 points (24 goals, 54 assists) in 79 games during the regular season.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals
News

Capitals F Tom Wilson out, Ilya Samsonov starting in goal

May 7, 2022, 3:48 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals confirmed that forward Tom Wilson will miss his second straight contest and Ilya Samsonov will start in goal for Game 3 Saturday afternoon against the visiting Florida Panthers.

Wilson is considered day-to-day after suffering a lower-body injury on Tuesday during Washington's 4-2 win in Game 1 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Samsonov relieved starter Vitek Vanecek in the third period of the Capitals' 5-1 loss in Game 2 on Thursday and stopped all 17 shots he faced.

Wilson, 28, registered 52 points (24 goals, 28 assists) in 78 games during the regular season.

Samsonov, 25, was 23-12-5 with three shutouts, a 3.02 goals-against average and an .896 save percentage during the regular season.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at Florida Panthers
News

Capitals F Tom Wilson out for Game 2 vs. Panthers

May 5, 2022, 7:02 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson will not play in Game 2 on Thursday night against the Florida Panthers because of a lower-body injury, coach Peter Laviolette said.

Wilson scored a goal in the first period of Tuesday night's 4-2 win in the first-round series opener at Sunrise, Fla. He exited the game later in that period after a hit from Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar.

Wilson, 28, was the Capitals' fourth-leading scorer during the regular season with 52 points (24 goals, 28 assists).

"You can't replace Tom, especially in playoffs," teammate T.J. Oshie told reporters after the game. "He is one of our most important players because of his ability to play physical, his ability to score big goals like he did (in the first period)."

Wilson has 273 points (115 goals, 158 assists) in 647 games over nine seasons with Washington since being drafted in the first round (16th overall) in 2012.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at Florida Panthers
News

Capitals F Tom Wilson a game-time decision Thursday

May 4, 2022, 6:18 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson will be a game-time decision with a lower-body injury for Game 2 on Thursday night against the Florida Panthers, coach Peter Laviolette said Wednesday.

Wilson scored a goal in the first period of Tuesday night's 4-2 win in the first-round series opener in Sunrise, Fla. He exited the game later in that period after a hit from Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar.

Laviolette said Wilson will receive treatment for the injury on Wednesday.

Wilson, 28, was the Capitals' fourth-leading scorer during the regular season with 52 points (24 goals, 28 assists).

"You can't replace Tom, especially in playoffs," teammate T.J. Oshie told reporters after the game. "He is one of our most important players because of his ability to play physical, his ability to score big goals like he did (in the first period)."

Wilson has 273 points (115 goals, 158 assists) in 647 games over nine seasons with Washington since being drafted in the first round (16th overall) in 2012.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Washington Capitals at Arizona Coyotes
News

Capitals star Alex Ovechkin to return for Game 1 of playoffs

May 3, 2022, 7:02 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will be on the ice Tuesday night when Washington and the top-seeded Florida Panthers open the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs in Sunrise, Fla.

He missed the Capitals' final three regular-season games with an upper-body injury but returned to practice over the weekend.

"To be honest, I haven't really noticed anything different," Washington coach Peter Laviolette said Tuesday. "He was a full participant. He wasn't held out of anything and he competed at full go, so just through the days leading up to this, I think his status becomes cleared and today he's good to go."

The Capitals were outscored 12-4 in the three games he missed.

The 36-year-old Ovechkin was injured April 24 in Washington's 4-3 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He lost his footing after tripping over the stick of Maple Leafs goaltender Erik Kallgren and slammed into the boards with his left shoulder.

A three-time Hart Trophy recipient, Ovechkin leads the team in goals (50) and points (90) while playing in 77 games this season. He is 21 goals behind Hall of Famer Gordie Howe (801) for second all-time in NHL history.

Ovechkin has never missed a playoff game in his 17 seasons in the NHL.

"Alex always wants to play, but he was held out," Laviolette said. "It was just best for him. He wants to play all the time. You've got to love a guy like that. He always wants in the lineup. But he was dealing with some stuff and it (was) best just to move forward and have ready for Game 1, if we could get him ready for Game 1."

--Field Level Media

NHL: Florida Panthers at Vegas Golden Knights
News

Panthers D Aaron Ekblad nears return from injury

May 1, 2022, 6:27 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad, out since March 18 with a lower-body injury, is targeting a return in the Panthers' first-round playoff series against the Washington Capitals, interim coach Andrew Brunette said.

Ekblad, 26, was a full participant in practice on Sunday. Brunette said there was a chance Ekblad could play Tuesday in Game 1.

The Panthers won the Presidents' Trophy and are the No. 1 seed in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

In 61 games this season, Ekblad achieved career highs in assists (42) and points (57), and his 15 goals were one off the career mark he set in 2017-18.

On the other side, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin also skated in practice Sunday, though his availability for Tuesday's series opener remains unclear.

The 36-year-old forward missed the final three games of the regular season with an upper-body injury.

Ovechkin was injured April 24 in Washington's 4-3 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He lost his footing after tripping over the stick of Maple Leafs goaltender Erik Kallgren and slammed into the boards with his left shoulder.

A three-time Hart Trophy recipient, Ovechkin leads the team in goals (50) and points (90) while playing in 77 games this season. He is 21 goals behind Hall of Famer Gordie Howe (801) for second all-time in NHL history.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals
News

Capitals star Alex Ovechkin (upper body) to miss third straight game

April 29, 2022, 9:46 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin will miss the team's regular-season finale Friday at the New York Rangers with an upper-body injury, marking three straight games he's missed ahead of the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs next week.

Ovechkin had been considered a game-time decision for Washington's Thursday game at the New York Islanders, but did not play. Capitals coach Peter Laviolette did not tip his hand about the severity of Ovechkin's situation, only telling reporters, "He's out with an upper-body injury."

The Capitals (44-25-12, 100 points) have qualified for the playoffs and will face either the Presidents Cup-winning Florida Panthers or the Rangers in their first-round series in the Eastern Conference. If the Capitals beat the Rangers on Friday and the Pittsburgh Penguins (45-25-11, 101 points) lose to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington will overtake the rival Penguins for third place in the Metropolitan Division and draw the Rangers again in the first round.

Ovechkin was injured Sunday in Washington's 4-3 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He lost his footing after tripping over the stick of Maple Leafs goaltender Erik Kallgren and slammed into the boards with his left shoulder.

The 36-year-old Russian then sat out two straight losses to the Islanders on Tuesday and Thursday.

A three-time Hart Trophy recipient, Ovechkin leads the team in goals (50) and points (90) while playing in 77 games this season. He is 21 goals behind Hall of Famer Gordie Howe (801) for second all-time in NHL history.

--Field Level Media

NHL: New York Islanders at Washington Capitals
News

Capitals star Alex Ovechkin ruled out vs. Islanders

April 28, 2022, 4:31 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has been ruled out of Thursday's road game against the New York Islanders because of an upper-body injury, coach Peter Laviolette said.

Laviolette said Ovechkin had a good practice and moved well on Thursday. Laviolette added that it is too early to tell if Ovechkin would play in Friday's regular-season finale against the New York Rangers.

Ovechkin lost his footing after tripping over the stick of Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Erik Kallgren and slammed into the boards with his left shoulder during Washington's 4-3 shootout loss on Sunday. The 36-year-old Russian sat out Tuesday's 4-1 setback to the Islanders.

A three-time Hart Trophy recipient, Ovechkin leads the team in goals (50) and points (90) while playing in 77 games this season. He is 21 goals behind Hall of Famer Gordie Howe (801) for second all-time in NHL history.

The Capitals (44-24-12, 100 points) reside one point behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Florida Panthers
News

Panthers D Radko Gudas, F Anton Lundell day-to-day

April 27, 2022, 5:00 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Florida Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas and forward Anton Lundell are day-to-day and will sit out the final two games of the regular season for precautionary measures, interim coach Andrew Brunette said Wednesday.

The Panthers (57-17-6, 120 points) have already locked up the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed in the playoffs. They wrap up the schedule with road games at Ottawa on Thursday and at Montreal on Friday.

Gudas has a lower-body injury and Lundell is dealing with an upper-body injury. Both skated in Tuesday night's 4-2 loss to the Bruins in Boston.

Gudas, 31, has 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) and 105 penalty minutes in 77 games this season.

Lundell, 20, has 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists) in 65 games during his rookie campaign. He was Florida's first-round pick (12th overall) in 2020.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals
News

Capitals star Alex Ovechkin game-time decision vs. Islanders

April 26, 2022, 6:31 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Washington Capitals superstar captain Alex Ovechkin will be a game-time decision against the visiting New York Islanders on Tuesday.

Ovechkin didn't participate in Tuesday's morning skate and remains day-to-day after sustaining an upper-body injury that forced him out in the third period of Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Capitals have clinched a playoff spot, but they are fighting for a better seed.

The Capitals (44-23-12, 100 points) are one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for third place in the Metropolitan Division. In the wild-card race, they are three points behind the Boston Bruins for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Washington has three games remaining: a home-and-away series with the Islanders on Tuesday and Thursday and the finale on Friday at the New York Rangers.

The injury occurred on a breakaway two minutes into the third period against the Maple Leafs. Ovechkin lost his footing after tripping over Toronto goalie Erik Kallgren's stick. Ovechkin went shoulder-first into the boards and left the game.

Ovechkin, who has 50 goals this season, has missed two games in 2021-22, both due to COVID-19 in February.

The 36-year-old is currently 21 goals behind Gordie Howe (801) for second all-time. Wayne Gretzky (894) is the all-time leader.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals
News

Capitals F Alex Ovechkin day-to-day

April 25, 2022, 4:04 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin is day-to-day with an upper-body injury that forced him out of Sunday's game against Toronto in the third period.

The Capitals return to the ice Tuesday to face the New York Islanders.

On a breakaway two minutes into the third period, Ovechkin lost his footing after tripping over Toronto goalie Erik Kallgren's stick. Ovechkin went shoulder first into the boards and left the game.

"I think he skated into my stick and tripped on it. So it was not my intention to trip him and I hope he's well," Kallgren said after the game. "... Obviously, he was frustrated. I didn't mean to trip him. I didn't mean to cause an injury so I hope he's fine."

Ovechkin, who has 50 goals this season, has missed two games this season, both due to COVID-19 in February.

The Capitals lost to the Leafs in a shootout and are three points behind the Boston Bruins for the first wild card in the Eastern Conference.

The 36-year-old Ovechkin is currently 21 goals behind Gordie Howe (801) for second all-time.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers
News

Panthers F Ryan Lomberg suspended 1 game

April 25, 2022, 4:04 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Florida Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg was automatically suspended for one game Monday under the NHL's rule of instigating in the final five minutes of a game.

Panthers coach Andrew Brunette was fined $10,000.

The incident occurred Sunday in the Panthers' 8-4 win over Tampa Bay.

Lomberg initiated a fight with Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak with 3:36 remaining in the third period. Lomberg was sent off with a 10-minute misconduct and Brunette was ejected.

Lomberg, 27, has 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) and 92 penalty minutes in 53 games this season.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Washington Capitals at Arizona Coyotes
News

Capitals' star Alex Ovechkin exits with upper-body injury

April 25, 2022, 1:50 AM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Washington Capitals star left wing Alex Ovechkin left Sunday night's home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs with what the Capitals said was an upper-body injury.

Ovechkin, who is fourth in the NHL with 50 goals this season and third in the league all-time with 780, was hurt when he tripped over the goalie stick of Toronto's Erik Kallgren after missing on a breakaway. Ovechkin slid into the end boards and left the ice in apparent pain and a possible shoulder injury.

A three-time Hart Trophy winner as the league's most valuable player, the Russian star is in his 17th NHL season, all with the Capitals. His career high of 65 goals in a season came in 2007-08, his first Hart Trophy season, as did his best of 112 points.

Ovechkin, 36, has 90 points (50 goals, 40 assists) in 77 games this season.

The Capitals (44-23-11, 99 points) have already clinched a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. With the league beginning its final week of the regular season, they trailed Boston by only two points for the top wild card.

--Field Level Media