The Capitals defeat the Panthers in Game 3 to take the lead in the 2-1 series

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Ilya Samsonov rebounded after conceding an early goal, and the Capitals of Washington they recovered on Saturday to prove they can stand up to victory in the Presidents’ Trophy Florida panthers.

Samsonov made 29 saves, Alex Ovechkin scored a goal in power-play and assisted another and the Capitals eliminated the Panthers 6-1 in Game 3 to take the lead 2-1 in the first-round series. Songs of “Sammy! Sammy!” gave way to “Ovi! Ovi! in the third period of the convincing victory.

Game 4 is Monday in Washington.

TJ Oshie deflected Ovechkin’s shot for a goal in power-play, and Marcus Johansson, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Garnet Hathaway also scored for the Capitals, who shrugged off a 5-1 defeat in Game 2 and One Initial disadvantage in Game 3 behind their new starting goalkeeper’s play and a stingy effort that thwarted the NHL’s best offensive offensive of the regular season.

Samsonov got approval to replace Vitek Vanecek on the net after stopping all 17 relief shots on Thursday. He got off to a rough start, giving up a goal for league MVP candidate Jonathan Huberdeau in under three minutes, then stopped every shot he saw for the rest of the course.


Washington Capitals left winger Marcus Johansson (90) celebrates his goal with his teammates during the second period of Game 3 in the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs against the Florida Panthers on Saturday, May 7, 2022 in Washington.
(AP Photo / Alex Brandon)

With Samsonov backbone on par and out of hand, Washington’s penalty improved to 9 of 9 against Florida, which finished fifth in power play this season at just under 25%. The Panthers also led the league by scoring more than four goals per game.

But this streak against an opponent with more post-season hockey experience – seven players remain from Washington’s 2018 Stanley Cup championship – was another tough lesson for the Panthers on how to win the playoffs. The reckless penalties from defender Mackenzie Weegar and Huberdeau paved the way for power-play goals, a missed defensive assignment opened the door for Johansson and a corner turnover led to van Riemsdyk.

Similar mistakes cost Florida in last year’s first round: a defeat to Tampa Bay on the way to a second consecutive Lightning title. Only this time around, the Panthers were supposed to have a deep run after garnering the best 122 NHL points out of 58 wins in 82 games.

If they don’t win three more within the next eight days, it will be another disappointment for a franchise that hasn’t advanced into the playoffs since 1996 and entered the postseason as one of the favorites to hoist the Cup.

The eighth-seeded Capitals of the Eastern Conference improved to 4 of 12 in the power play in the series. Their win secured at least two more playoff home games this spring.

NOTES: John Carlson scored an empty goal with 4:20 left. … Ovechkin’s goal was his 72nd in the playoffs, tying him to Patrick Marleau and Esa Tikkanen for 14th on the career list. His 28 goals in power-play are in seventh place. … Capitals right winger Tom Wilson missed a second straight game with a lower body injury. … Connor McMichael made his NHL playoff debut, replacing Brett Leason, who took over from Wilson in Game 2 and skated just seven minutes.