Panthers eliminate Capitals, advance to second round of playoffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Carter Verhaeghe ended the debate in overtime as the Florida Panthers eliminated the Washington Capitals with a 4-3 victory on Friday night.

In the third minute of extra time, Claude Giroux grabbed the puck behind the net and spun before joining Verhaeghe in front of goalkeeper Ilya Samsonov. Verhaeghe hit a backhand that flashed the red light.

It was Verhaeghe’s second extra-time goal of the series. He had also played the heroes in the fourth duel, also played in Washington.

The Panthers won that series in six games and advanced to the second round for the first time since 1996.

Giroux finished the game with a goal and two assists, while Ryan Lomberg and Aleksander Barkov each added a goal for Florida. Sergei Bobrovsky blocked 34 shots in the win.

Nic Dowd, Nicklas Backstrom and TJ Oshie answered for the Capitals, who were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year. Samsonov gave up four times on 31 shots.

After a goalless first half, but dominated by the people from the capital, the two teams scored once each, in the second half.

Positioned in front of Bobrovsky’s net, Dowd accepted Garnet Hathaway’s pass and sent the puck over the horizontal bar. However, the return fell in front of him and pushed the puck behind the red line.

However, the Panthers’ fourth row responded less than three minutes later. Eetu Luostarinen passed the puck to Patric Hornqvist, who saw Samsonov save his shot. Lomberg, however, followed the game well and hit the return.

The Capitalinos recovered the advantage in the second minute of the third period. Near the boards, Justin Schultz fired a high shot that was deftly deflected by Backstrom. The Swede was careful not to have his stick higher than the horizontal bar.

Giroux brought both teams full circle when he took advantage of Samsonov’s generosity. The Panthers forward entered on the right flank and fooled the Russian’s vigilance between the pads.

With less than six minutes left in the match, Giroux worked well at the net and passed the puck the other way to Barkov, who threaded the needle for the Florida team.

The Panthers thought they could close the books in regulation, the home team forced overtime on a freak streak with 63 seconds remaining. Evgeni Kuznetsov fired a wrist shot and the puck spun in the air. Anthony Mantha slammed her into the air against the horizontal bar before Oshie took it twice to create the equalizer.

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