Sam Reinhart is making his first appearance in the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs with the Florida Panthers, this is well documented.
On Monday night, Reinhart picked a great time to score his first postseason goal.
Florida was trailing the Capitals by a goal with 3:05 remaining when Andrew Brunette pulled goalie Sergei Bobrovsky; after Washington’s Garnet Hathaway’s 120-foot shot nearly went in, Florida lined up in the Capitals’ zone for a faceoff.
Sasha Barkov won the faceoff against Nicklas Backstrom and the Panthers kept possession in the zone. Barkov, Carter Verhaeghe and Aaron Ekblad all had shot attempts during this sequence, but finally the puck found Reinhart in the slot.
His snapshot sailed 15 feet past goalie Ilya Samsonov and just like that, with 2:04 remaining, the Panthers had life once again in a 2-2 game.
A little while later, Verhaeghe became a Florida playoff hero by scoring 4:57 into overtime to give the Panthers a 3-2 win.
But he would not have been put into that position had it not been for one Sam Reinhart.
“Those are the kind of situations you want to be in as a hockey player,” Reinhart said. “It is a game which can go either way at the end of it. We’re happy about it. It’s obviously a much better feeling going home 2-2 as opposed to down 3-1.”
Reinhart had not had the opportunity to participate in the postseason in his seven seasons with the Buffalo Sabres although they did come close in 2019.
That season, the Sabres were active at the trade deadline, acquiring defenseman Brandon Montour from the Ducks — but Buffalo’s season soon fizzled as the team won just two of 16 games in March and missed the playoffs.
The last time Buffalo made the postseason in 2011, Reinhart was A rookie on the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League.
Now, he’s getting a chance at playoff glory with the Panthers.
Until his big goal on Monday night, Reinhart’s highlight of this series was a tic-tac-toe drive to the net with Anton Lundell, the Florida rookie getting his first postseason goal in his second game.
That gave the Panthers a three-goal lead in a 5-1 Game 2 win.
That was the last time the Panthers played at home.
Now, in great part due to Reinhart, the Panthers are coming back to Sunrise with the series knotted at 2 games each.
He is looking forward to it.
“We feel good about our game,” Reinhart said. “I am sure they feel good about their game. We’re thrilled to get home ice advantage again, go home in a much better mood and a lot more confidence in ourselves all squared up again.”
NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
PANTHERS V. CAPITALS (TIED 2-2)
- Game 5: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN2
- Radio: WQAM 560 (Miami/Fort Lauderdale); WMEN 640 (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3 (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- 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: @Washington 6, Florida 1; Game 4: Florida 3, @Washington 2 (OT); Game 5: Washington at Florida, Wednesday, 7:30 (ESPN2/BSF); Game 6: Florida at Washington, Friday (Time, National TV TBA); Game 7*: Washington at Florida, Sunday. *If necessary