Washington, may6 (BNA): The bounce-back game that the Florida Panthers needed started, perhaps fittingly, with a puck that took a fortuitous bounce. A burst here. A burst there. And just like that, the series tied.
Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe each had a goal and an assist and the Panthers beat the Washington Capitals 5-1 on Thursday night to even the Eastern Conference first-round series at a game apiece.
Aaron Ekblad, Anton Lundell and Mason Marchment also scored for Florida, the top overall seed in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 26 shots.
Nicklas Backstrom scored for Washington. Vitek Vanecek gave up five goals on 19 shots in the first two periods, and Ilya Samsonov went into the Capitals’ net for the third period — stopping all 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes.
The series shifts to Washington, with Game 3 on Saturday and Game 4 on Monday night, reports AP.
It was just Florida’s sixth win in its last 19 home playoff games going back to 1996, and matched the biggest victory margin in franchise playoff history.
Florida beat Boston 6-2 in Game 2 of the first round of the 1996 playoffs, the season in which the Panthers went to the Stanley Cup final, and won 5-1 in Pittsburgh later that season in the East finals.