The Florida Panthers did not come flying out of the gates Thursday night against the Washington Capitals, but scored twice in the final 3:40 of the first period to take a two-goal lead into the second.
Anton Lundell was called for hooking early in the second leading to a Washington power play — and it looked like the Capitals may have taken some of the momentum back with Nicklas Backstrom’s power play goal at 2:44.
Only Mason Marchment took it right back.
Marchment gave the Panthers a 3-1 lead just 27 seconds later, helping the Panthers pull out an eventual 5-1 win over the Capitals to even the best-of-7 series at a game apiece.
Game 3 is today at 1 p.m. (ESPN, Bally Sports Florida).
“It definitely felt great, getting a goal in the playoffs is an enhanced feeling,” Marchment said on Friday afternoon from Washington. “It was a great play so I was pretty excited. Something we have been talking about is grabbing the momentum and trying to hold onto it. That is a big part of the playoffs. We want to keep it as long as we can.”
Not long after Marchment scored, he got hit with a pair of minor penalties — one for slashing and the other for roughing — to give the Capitals a four-minute power play.
Washington did not score on that power play, however, and later added goals from Anton Lundell and Carter Verhaeghe to take a commanding 5-1 lead into the third.
The Florida Panthers looked like themselves for much of the second and third, outshooting the Capitals 29-16 over the final 40 minutes of the game.
Washington pulled goalie Vitek Vanecek with Ilya Samsonov coming in for the third, one Florida outshot the Caps 17-3 but failed to score.
It was a strong period for the Panthers, however, lack of scoring notwithstanding.
“What you can take out of that is we played a pretty tight-checking game and did not give them a whole lot,” Andrew Brunette said. “We let our skill sort of take over, we took a lead and that opened up and that left them a little vulnerable to what we do best.”
Samsonov will get the start against Sergei Bobrovsky today.
Brunette said there would be no changes to the Florida lineup for Game 3.
The Florida Panthers will be playing their first road game of the series, and it coming in the early afternoon hour, presents a challenge.
“It is going to understand the intensity level,” Brunette said. “It will be greater than the last two games, especially coming off a win. We have to be prepared to keep building our game. We’re still in third gear right here and we need to find a way to get to fourth. It will be a huge challenge for us.”
NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
PANTHERS V. CAPITALS (TIED 1-1)
- Game 3: Saturday, 1 p.m.
- Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN
- Radio: WQAM 560 (Miami/Fort Lauderdale); WMEN 640 (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3 (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Draft Kings odds — Florida favored: Money Line (-190); Puck line (-1.5, +130); Over/Under 6.5 (-125/+105); Series (-350)
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
PANTHERS V. CAPITALS
- Regular season series — Florida won 2-1: @Florida 5, Washington 4 OT (Nov. 4); @Washington 4, Panthers 3 (Nov. 26); @Florida 5, Washington 4 (Nov. 30)
- All-time regular season series: Capitals lead 67-44-11, 9 ties
- Playoff history: First meeting
- First-round schedule — Game 1: Washington 4, @Florida 2; Game 2: @Florida 5, Washington 1; Game 3: Florida at Washington, Saturday, 1 (ESPN/BSF); Game 4: Florida at Washington, May 9, 7 (TBS/BSF); Game 5: Washington at Florida, Wednesday, 7:30 (ESPN2/BSF); Game 6*: Florida at Washington, May 13; Game 7: Washington at Florida, May 15. *If necessary
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
Coach: Andrew Brunette
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 16 Sasha Barkov // 10 Anthony Duclair
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 8 Sam Bennett // 13 Sam Reinhart
17 Mason Marchment // 15 Anton Lundell // 28 Claude Giroux
55 Noel Acciari // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 70 Patric Hornqvist
52 MacKenzie Weegar // 5 Aaron Ekblad
42 Gus Forsling // 7 Radko Gudas
8 Ben Chiarot // 62 Brandon Montour
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
30 Spencer Knight
PP1: Reinhart – Barkov – Giroux – Huberdeau – Ekblad
PP2: Hornqvist – Bennett – Duclair – Marchment – Montour
Scratched: Lucas Carlsson, Petteri Lindbohm, Joe Thornton, Maxim Mamin, Robert Hagg, Jonas Johansson, Ryan Lomberg
Injured: Markus Nutivaara (LTIR)
PROJECTED WASHINGTON CAPITALS LINEUP
Coach: Peter Laviolette
8 Alex Ovechkin // 92 Evgeny Kuznetsov // 73 Conor Sheary
90 Marcus Johansson // 19 Nicklas Backstrom // 49 Brett Leason
39 Anthony Mantha // 20 Lars Eller // 77 T.J. Oshie
22 Johan Larsson // 26 Nic Dowd // 21 Garnet Hathaway
42 Martin Fehervary // 74 John Carlson
9 Dmitri Orlov // 3 Nick Jensen
57 Trevor van Riemsdyk // 2 Justin Schultz
30 Ilya Samsonov
41 Vitek Vanecek
PP1: Oshie – Backstrom – Kuznetsov – Ovechkin – Carlson
PP2: Wilson – Sheary – Mantha – Schultz – Orlov
Injured: Tom Wilson (d2d, LBI)
Washington Capitals lines courtesy WashingtonHockeyNow.Com