WASHINGTON (AP) – Ilya Samsonov bounced back after conceding an early goal, and the Washington Capitals returned on Saturday to show they can hold on very tightly with the Florida Panthers, which won the Presidential Trophy.
Samsonov made 29 saves, Alex Ovechkin scored a goal and assisted, and the Capitals defeated the Panthers 6-1 in Game 3 and took the lead 2-1 in the first round. Singing “Sammy! Sammy! ” gave way to “Ovi! These! in the third period of a confident victory.
Game 4 on Monday in Washington.
TJ Oshi repulsed Ovechkin’s shot by scoring one goal, and Marcus Johansson, Trevor van Rimsdick and Garnett Hathaway also scored for the Capitals, which escaped a 5-1 defeat in Game 2 and an early deficit in Game 3. their new starting goalkeeper and a stingy attempt that halted the best offensive in the NHL regular season.
Samsonov got the right to replace Vitek Vanecek in the goal after he stopped all 17 shots with relief on Thursday. He started rudely, conceding a goal to league MVP candidate Jonathan Huberdo in less than three minutes and then stopped every shot he’s seen so far.
With Samsonov’s uniform strength and little hand, Washington’s penalties have improved to 9 out of 9 against Florida, which ranked fifth in power this season with just under 25%. The Panthers also led the league, scoring more than four goals per game.
But this series against an opponent with more experience in post-season hockey – seven players remain in the Stanley Cup in Washington in 2018 – was another rough lesson for the Panthers on how to win the playoffs. The ill-conceived penalties of top pair defenders Mackenzie Wiegar and Huberdo paved the way for the scoring game, a missed task in defense opened the door for Johansson, and a corner corner led to van Rimsdack.
Similar mistakes cost Florida in the first round last year: a defeat by Tampa Bay on the way to the second Lightning title. Only this time, the Panthers were expected to make the deep run after scoring the NHL’s best 122 points with 58 wins in 82 games.
If they don’t win three more within the next eight days, it will be another disappointment for the franchise, which has not made the playoffs since 1996 and entered the post-season as one of the favorites to lift the Cup.
The eighth-seeded Eastern Conference Capitals improved to 4 out of 12 in power play in the series. Their win secured at least two more home playoff games this spring.
NOTES: John Carlson scored a goal in the empty net when 4:20 left. … Ovechkin’s goal was his 72nd in the playoffs, equating him with Patrick Marlowe and Eza Tikanen in 14th place in the career list. His 28 goals in the power game are in seventh place. … Right winger “Capitals” Tom Wilson missed the second game in a row due to a lower body injury. … Conor McMichael made his NHL playoff debut, replacing Brett Leeson, who took Wilson’s place in Game 2 and rode just seven minutes.
Follow AP hockey writer Stephen Wayne on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
More NHL AP: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Suggest a fix