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Capitals vs. Panthers Game One Recap: Vanecek Neuters Cats

Vitek Vanecek leads Washington to a 4 to 2 win over the Panthers in Florida.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at Florida Panthers Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

In the first ever playoff meeting between Florida and Washington the Capitals upset the Panthers 4 to 2.

Here’s Tuesday night’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Alex Ovechkin’s one sided conversation with Sergei Bobrovsky immediately after Evgeny Kuznetsov’s goal.

Minus: Tom Wilson’s health.

Game notes:

  • Less than two minutes into the contest the Panthers were down two men and fighting off a 5 against 3 Washington advantage. Florida survived the first penalty but couldn’t survive the second.
  • With a second remaining on the second penalty Tom Wilson stuffed home a rebound to put the visitors on the scoreboard first. Wilson’s celebration would be short lived though.
    After skating only 1:31 Wilson left the game. He made a brief appearance during a TV timeout but would not return to the Capitals bench.
  • Washington’s good play continued throughout the first, but late in the frame Sam Bennett struck for the Cats. With a deft fake before his shot Bennett put the puck up and over Vitek Vanecek’s blocker, bringing FLA Live Arena to life.
  • And early in the second period the Panthers struck again, 43 seconds after puck drop. Claude Giroux corralled a Brandon Montour rebound and poked it past an outstretched Vanecek to turn the light red again.
  • Bobrovsky registered 29 saves through forty minutes of play, oftentimes stymieing Washington’s forwards from in tight.
  • The back and forth play continued until Kuznetsov drew the Capitals even at 48:14. Skating the puck in from center ice all alone Kuznetsov shot the puck past Bobrovsky’s right side to knot the score at two.
  • Two minutes later T.J. Oshie put the Capitals ahead again. Entering the offensive zone alongside Nicklas Backstrom the Swede bought time before wiring a pass to Oshie’s stick, before it was promptly put into the net.
  • Florida pressed late and had their fair share of chances but Vanecek closed the door the rest of the way. Lars Eller empty net goal completed the game’s scoring.
  • Vanecek validated the choice to start him this series, ending the evening with 30 saves (.937 S%).