Panthers pounce on Caps 5-1 in Game 2 to even series originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
SUNRISE, Fla. — For about 25 minutes, the Capitals had to be very pleased with the way they’d played Game 2 of their Stanley Cup playoff series against the Florida Panthers.
But when the wheels came off, they came all the way off.
The Panthers scored five goals in the first two periods to take a four-goal lead and put the game away in a 5-1 route at FLA Live Arena.
The Capitals pulled goalie Vitek Vanecek after the second period, scored just one goal and now the momentum has shifted in favor of the Panthers.
The series is now tied 1-1. Game 3 is on Saturday at Capital One Arena at 1pm. Here are a few takeaways from Game 2:
Panthers pour it on
The Panthers made the Capitals pay for every defensive breakdown and let their league-best offense shine.
They scored five goals on 36 shots, as they seemingly converted on every defensive breakdown the Capitals had. And even when they didn’t, seemingly innocuous shots found their way past goalie Vitek Vanecek.
Washington ended Vanecek’s night after two periods. I have made 14 saves on 19 total shots.
The Capitals had a four-minute power play in the second period, but seemingly after the Panthers killed it off, the game shifted wildly in Florida’s favor.
Two goals in 27 seconds
The Capitals got on the board with a Nicklas Backstrom tally on the power play just 2:44 into the second period. It came from a no-angle shot with his feet below the goal line, as it brought the Capitals to within a goal.
That lasted just 27 seconds.
Mason Marchment came back the other way and beat Vanecek five-hole to regain the two-goal lead for the Panthers, who’d scored three goals on seven shots up to that point. It was from that point that the game swung heavily in Florida’s favor.
Disastrous end to the first
All things considered, the Capitals had a strong first 20 minutes. The Panthers, though, made sure to flip the script near the end of the first period.
The Panthers scored at 16:20 and 17:58 of the first period to take a 2-0 lead in the game, a lead they’d hang onto for the duration of the night.
Their first goal came off a wonky deflection on an Aaron Ekblad shot that bounced off Caps defenseman Martin Fehervary and into the net. A few moments later, Jonathan Huberdeau made a beautiful move to set up teammate Aleksander Barkov for a backdoor goal.
It was a disappointing end to the first for the Capitals, who’d played a strong game up to that point.
The Capitals were without standout forward Tom Wilson (lower-body injury) for Game 2, which meant the team was forced to turn to recent rookie call-up Brett Leason.
Leason played 8:01 in his playoff debut and skated on a line with center Nic Dowd and left wing Johan Larsson. The team moved Garnet Hathaway up to the third line with Anthony Mantha and Lars Eller.
Wilson’s status remains unclear moving forward, but coach Peter Laviolette said he was day-to-day at his press conference on Thursday.
Series shifting to Washington
The Capitals will try to regain the series lead on Saturday in Game 3, now with home-ice advantage after a split in the first two games of the series.
Game 5, which is scheduled for next Wednesday, is now guaranteed to be played at FLA Live Arena in Florida.
All first-round games of Capitals vs. Panthers will be available regionally on NBC Sports Washington and streamed live on the MyTeams app.