“There were two games that were played,” Capitals Coach Peter Laviolette said. “There was the game to push it to 3-0 where I liked everything we did, including the power play and the penalty kill and five-on-five play. And then there was the game that took place after that. . . . We got to get back to that first part of that game, and you got to play it consistently for 60 minutes.”
The Capitals lost their grip against a team that has specialized in rallies this season — Florida had an NHL-best 29 comeback victories en route to winning the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s best regular season team. The Panthers never looked panicked Wednesday as they methodically came back against a Capitals team now one loss from a fourth straight first-round playoff exit.
Things started well for the visitors with T.J. Oshie scoring the first of his two goals, tipping home John Carlson’s shot 7:09 into the first period with the Capitals on the power play. The Capitals added to that with two goals inside of 90 seconds early in the second. The first came from defenseman Justin Schultz, who scored off a rebound at 2:13, then Oshie finished off an odd-man rush for his fifth goal of the series at 3:38.
Then things went south — first slowly, then in a hurry. Florida forward Carter Verhaeghe, who finished with two goals and three assists, got the Panthers on the board with 13:10 left in the period by picking up a loose puck off the boards and beating Ilya Samsonov.
About six minutes later, forward Patric Hornqvist cut the Capitals’ lead to one, beating Samsonov on a breakaway. Sam Reinhart tied it up at 3 a little more than two minutes after that when he jammed the puck past Samsonov on the left post.
“For a lot of the game, I like the way we played,” Oshie said. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t show up on the scoreboard and they took advantage of their chances. There was a lot of the game where I thought we did a good job.”
The arena was booming entering the third, and the home team continued to ride that momentum, with Verhaeghe scoring the game-winner at 3:04 of the third. He stripped the puck from defenseman Dmitry Orlov before racing into the offensive zone and finishing a feed from captain Aleksander Barkov.
Read More: Capitals on the brink after Game 5 collapse against Panthers 2022-05-12 04:34:00