Capitals regain series lead with 6-1 win over Panthers


Oh, how things have shifted. 

The Capitals, fresh off a dominating defeat Thursday, beat the Panthers 6-1 on Saturday in Game 3 at Capital One Arena to regain the series lead in a confidence-boosting win. 

They scored timely goals, got save-after-save from Ilya Samsonov in net and now are just two wins away from knocking off the Presidents' Trophy winners. 

The Capitals now lead the series 2-1. Game 4 is on Monday night. Here are a few takeaways from Game 3: 

Capitals turn to Samsonov

After starting Vitek Vanecek for Games 1 and 2 in Florida, the Capitals started Samsonov for Game 3 at home. And after allowing a goal he’d want back in the opening minute, he stood tall for the remainder of the day and stopped 29 of 30 Florida shots. 

It was the kind of performance in net the Capitals needed against the league's best offense, as they got not only big time saves, but timely ones as well throughout the afternoon. 

Samsonov assuredly earned himself the start in Game 4, and for good reason with his play on Saturday. 

Penalty kill shines

The Capitals’ penalty kill, even absent Tom Wilson, was sparkling on Saturday as it had been all series long. 

The penalty-killers were aggressive all afternoon, led by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Conor Sheary, and created a handful of scoring chances of their own. They kept the Panthers off-balance on the man-advantage, and held them off the board through three power play opportunities. 


Washington got a power play chance right after perhaps its best penalty kill of the day at the end of the first period, and struck just seconds later with a T.J. Oshie deflection to tie the game at 1-1.

Second period stars

The Panthers pressed hard in the second period, but the Capitals came out clean on the other side. 

Samsonov kept the Capitals in the game, and the Capitals made his saves count. 

Marcus Johansson, after a nice save by Samsonov, scored on the backhand on a nice rush up the ice by the Capitals to give them a 2-1 lead. Toward the end of the period, defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk had all day to shoot and made it count, as he beat Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky high glove to give the Capitals a 3-1 lead after two periods. 

With the Capitals not having, statistically, a very strong period in terms of shots, they made the ones they got count. 

Wilson absent once again

Wilson (lower-body injury) was absent once again for an injury he suffered in Game 1 of the series. 

Wilson’s absence has played a noticeable part in the series, and for as long as he’s out of the lineup, the Capitals will be missing an integral part to their lineup. 

It is unclear what his injury is, though coach Peter Laviolette said it was a day-to-day injury as of Friday.

A series lead once again

The Capitals are now just two victories away from knocking off the NHL's best team in the regular season, as they'll need just two of the remaining potential four games to move on to the second round. 

Though there were parts of today's game the Capitals will need to adjust from, those are the periods that can bury a team as it did to the Panthers on Saturday.

Game 4 will be Monday at Capital One Arena when the Capitals will go for the commanding 3-1 series lead.

All first-round games of Capitals vs. Panthers will be available regionally on NBC Sports Washington and streamed live on the MyTeams app.