The Washington Capitals have taken the first game against the President’s Trophy winning Florida Panthers. This comes as a major shock as the Florida Panthers are the clear favorite for the series, based on their regular season success. However, through system play and clear playoff experience over their opposition, the Capitals have struck first.
The final score of the match was 4-2 but key aspects from each team can be said in regards to the outlook of the goals.
To open up the scoring Tom Wilson scores on the powerplay he is able to receive the puck open in front of goal, after Sergei Bobrovsky blocked a shot from the point from Anthony Mantha.
What we can see from this goal is that Jonathan Huberdeau is unable to get on the side of Wilson to collect the rebound first, thus allowing the Capital to grab the puck and score.
Though an elite scorer, Huberdeau has been criticized for his lack of defensive play this regular season, and in this instance, that allowed Wilson to get the first goal of the playoff series.
In the second goal of the game, Sam Bennet of the Florida Panthers scores next, as he is able to score on the counter attack after winning the puck in his own defensive zone. Bennet shoots from the middle of the offensive zone in front of Orlov and Jensen, and is able to beat Vanecek.
In this play Nick Jensen is slow to react and does not apply enough pressure as Bennet is entering the offensive zone, which gives him enough time to shoot.
To open up the second period, Claude Giroux is able to score off the rebound right after the face off. This is after losing Evgenvy Kuznetsov after the draw.
This is Giroux’s first playoff goal for the Panthers, in his first playoff Game for the Panthers and it allowed his team to grab the lead for the first time of the series and for the night.
After losing the faceoff, it is clear that Kuznetsov struggled to keep an eye on his man, allowing Giroux to pick up the rebound in front of goal. Additionally, had Kuznetsov sent the puck towards the wall (in which Florida had no man on the draw), or won the faceoff backwards, the goal could have been prevented.
To tie the game of the Capitals, Kuznetsov is able to redeem his previous error and score off a breakaway that originally was started through fantastic defensive work from Ovechkin.
Mackenzie Weegar is carry the puck out of the defensive zone and into the neutral zone, but unfortunately stutters and does not release the puck to a teammate (in which there is one on each side of the ice). This allows Ovechkin to stop Weegar, allowing the free puck to land to Kuznetsov who ultimately scores.
In the middle of the third period, the Capitals are then able to take the lead after Orlov is able to send a pass up the ice from the defensive zone into the offensive zone to Backstrom, who plays the puck perfectly through Mackenzie Weegar’s legs and onto Oshie’s stick in front of the net.
In this play Giroux is forced to cover in the defensive zone, but is unable to keep up with Oshie.
The final goal of the game is an empty net goal scored from the defensive zone by Lars Eller as he clears the zone with just under a minute left in the game.
The puck finds its way into the back of the net, which ultimately seals the game for the first game of series in favor of the Capitals.
Game 2 of the series happens on May 5th 2022 at 7:30 EST