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Carter Verhaeghe’s OT heroism helps Panthers take down Capitals

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Carter Verhaeghe’s goal 2:46 into overtime gave the Florida Panthers a decisive 4-3 win over host Washington Capitals in Game 6 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.

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After a franchise and NHL-high 122 regular season points, Florida won its first playoff series since the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals, the longest playoff drought of any team. of the NHL.

After losing their last seven playoff series, the Panthers head into the second round to face the winner of the series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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Verhaeghe also scored the overtime winner in Game 4, adding to a spectacular streak for the Panthers forward. With a goal and an assist in Game 6, Verhaeghe led all players with 12 points (six goals, six assists) in the series.

Verhaeghe even made the decision to take the ice in Game 6, after missing morning practice with an undisclosed injury.

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Claude Giroux had a goal and two assists, powering the Panthers’ third straight victory. With the Capitals leading 2-1 after 48 minutes, Giroux equalized at 8:18 of the third period, then registered assists on Aleksander Barkov’s game-winning goal and Verhaeghe’s game-winning goal in overtime.

Ryan Lomberg scored the Panthers’ other goal. Lomberg was making his first appearance in the lineup since Game 1.

Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 34 of 37 shots for his 17th career playoff victory.

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Nic Dowd, Nicklas Backstrom and TJ Oshie all scored for Washington, with all three players closing in on hero status. Dowd hit two posts in the third period, Backstrom’s third-period goal gave the Capitals the lead, and Oshie forced overtime with a power play with 63 seconds left in regulation.

The Panthers won the series despite dominating Washington in the special teams battle. Florida was 0 for 18 on the power play during the series, while the Capitals were 7 for 24 with the extra forward.

Since winning the Stanley Cup Final in 2018, the Capitals have been knocked out in the first round in each of the past four seasons.

Ilya Samsonsov stopped 27 of the Capitals’ 31 shots.