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2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Claude Giroux has a big night, leads Florida Panthers past Caps

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Florida panthers giroux
Claude Giroux makes his debut with the Florida Panthers against the Montreal Canadiens game on March 24 at the Bell Center. — Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire

The NHL has a commercial running during these playoffs in which Florida Panthers forward Claude Giroux is featured prominently.

The spot is about teams wanting to win another Stanley Cup, focusing on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But at the end, Giroux is shown in slow motion: He only wants one Cup.

As was the case with Joe Thornton, Giroux thought the Panthers were his best chance to finally lift that silver chalice, only agreeing to waive his no-trade clause to join Florida.

It was a blockbuster deal for both the Panthers and Flyers, as Giroux helped lead Philadelphia to the Finals in 2010 but got no closer in his long run as team captain.

He thinks he has hitched his wagon to the right horse here in Sunrise.

”I am just enjoying the playoffs right now” Giroux said last week. “We’re having a good time, having a lot of fun. Playoff hockey is stressful, it’s emotional, a lot of stuff going on. We lost Game 3 and were down a little bit and believed we could come back in this series.”

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On Friday night, the Panthers were certainly thankful Giroux picked them.

Giroux played a huge role in Florida’s 4-3 overtime win against the Capitals, propelling the Panthers into the Eastern Conference semifinals and a date with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

With the Panthers trailing 2-1 in the third period after Nicklas Backstrom’s deflection, Aaron Ekblad got free with Giroux on a 2-on-1 and slid the puck to him as they crossed into the Washington zone to tie the score with under 12 minutes remaining.

Later in the period, had the puck off a big rebound from a MacKenzie Weegar shot; he saw Sasha Barkov flash to the net and slid him the puck in traffic to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead.

In overtime, Florida had possession deep in the zone and Giroux not only helped continue that, but sent a nice pass from the end boards to Carter Verhaeghe in front to win it.

He also won 55 percent of his faceoffs, including a couple in overtime.

Big night by a big player.

“G is so efficient on faceoffs, he wins all the tough ones,” Jonathan Huberdeau said. “He is playing well right now, playing with confidence. That is good to see.”

Florida will be playing Tampa Bay for the second consecutive postseason — and Giroux is one of a handful of Panthers who were not around for that first-round exit last May.

Battling through the first round against Washington, Giroux said, should help the Panthers moving forward.

”We wanted to move on and go play the second round,” said Giroux, who had three goals and seven points in six games — including two goals and five points in the final two.

“I feel we a little momentum, whomever we play in Round 2 we just have to focus on ourselves.”

NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS 

PANTHERS V. LIGHTNING

  • Game 1: TBA
  • Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise   
  • TV/Streaming: National TV TBA (ESPN or TNT/TBS)
  • Radio: WQAM 560 (Miami/Fort Lauderdale); WMEN 640 (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3 (Florida Keys); SiriusXM 
  • Tickets: CLICK HERE
  • Full schedule: TBA

PANTHERS V. LIGHTNING

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