The Florida Panthers got the start they wanted, but it all went awry after that, as they surrendered six straight goals in an embarrassing 6-1 defeat to the Washington Capitals, who went up two games to one in the series.
Jonathan Huberdeau took a crossing pass from Anthony Duclair and fired the puck past Ilya Samsonov’s glove 2:45 into the tilt.
Other than some good saves by Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped 25 of 30 shots faced, that would be the Panthers only highlight of the afternoon.
A very dubious holding the stick call on MacKenzie Weegar put the Capitals on the power play late in the frame and after T.J. Oshie beat Aleksander Barkov, who had another underwhelming playoff performance, on an offensive zone draw, he went to the net to deflect in the puck after Alex Ovechkin threw it towards the net. The tying goal came at 19:34 with the second assist going to John Carlson.
Florida had a couple of power-play opportunites early in the second and couldn’t solve Samonov and fell behind when Washington got a little puck luck. Ben Chiarot blocked Anthony Mantha’s backhand attempt in the low slot, but the puck came right to Marcus Johannson, who swept it home at 9:51.
The Capitals added another at 18:49 after Weegar was stripped of the puck by Mantha (probably should’ve been a penalty handed out here) and Bobrovsky made a big save on Niklas Backstrom’s drive. The rebound again went to Johannson, who found an open Trevor van Riemsdyk, who sniped Bobrovsky from the left circle for his first playoff goal in six seasons.
A completely undisiplined penalty on Huberdeau led to another Washington goal 10:25 into the third. The Cats penalty killers left Ovechkin wide open on the left side and he easily hammered Conor Sheary’s cross by Bobrovsky. Mantha drew his second helper of the matinee on Ovechkin’s first of the series.
Carlson would score an empty-netter from behind his own goal line at 15:40 and Garnet Hathaway potted a rebound on a late 3-on-2 break to complete the scoring.
Lars Eller had the lone assist on Carlson’s goal while Johan Larrson and Nic Dowd got the helpers on the Hathaway marker.
Just a day to forget for the Panthers who continue to look completely off their game this series. They were held to one goal or fewer in regulation for the first time since January 21. Andrew Brunette and his squad need to find answers for Monday’s night meeting as they are highly unlikey to come back if they go down three games to one.
Stars & Gripes
- After blanking the Panthers in the third period in Game 2, Ilya Samonsov got the start and finished with 29 saves on 30 shots, including a key pad stop on Aleksander Barkov right before Marcus Johannson’s go-ahead goal.
- The Capitals went 2-for-6 on the power play. The Cats went 0-for-3 and are a dreadful 0-for-9 in the series. Florida has too much talent to be that bad up a man.
- Jonathan Huberdeau goal was his 18th career playoff point, tying Ray Sheppard for the most in Panthers history. Huberdeau didn’t do much after that, finishing with just two shots and all but handing the Capitals the back-breaking goal with his stupid interfence penalty.
- T.J. Oshie notched his 14th postseason power-play goal with Washington, passing Peter Bondra for the second-most in Capitals history behind Alex Ovechkin (27).
- MacKenzie Weegar had a game-high nine hits, but continues to be a catalyst for Washington’s offense. Weegar struggled down the stretch and unfortunately, with the exception of Game 2, that has carried over to the postseason.
- I was worried from the get-go the Panthers went in the wrong direction with the big trade for Claude Giroux. His no-shot, 42% win rate on faceoffs, and -3 performance in Game 3 did nothing to alleviate my concern. Nothing against Giroux, who killed it as a Panther in the regular season, but that trade’s going to look really bad if the Cats get bounced in the first round.
- Anthony Duclair was held without a shot on goal for the third straight game. It’s time for him to sit. Yeah, he has two assists, but both were routine plays that anyone else on the team could make.
- For more on the Game 3 disaster head over to Japers’ Rink.