Florida Panthers win first playoff series since 1996 in overtime win over Washington Capitals

WASHINGTON (AP) — On the wrong side of this comeback effort, the Florida Panthers rebounded in overtime and didn’t have to go home to finish the first round series.

Carter Verhaeghe beat Washington Capitals 4-3 in Game 6 on Friday night to record the winner of overtime, sending the Panthers into round two. It’s the franchise’s first playoff series win since 1996, when Florida reached the Stanley Cup final.

The Panthers still have eight wins to go to the finals, but they will have a home ice advantage in the next series against statewide rivals Tampa Bay Lightning or the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Florida looked like they were on the brink of a rule win as Gustav Forsling knocked out Nicklas Backstrom with 1 minute and 9 seconds left in the third period. TJ Oshie went into a frenzy of over 18,000 sold out spectators by scoring in 6 seconds in the Washington Power Play.

Florida Panthers center Carter Berhege scores during overtime against Washington Capitals goalkeeper Ilya Samsonov in Game 6 of the match.

The fans were silent after Verhaeghe scored the sixth goal of the series at 2:46 in overtime. Florida’s leading scorer in the series, Verhaeghe, missed the morning skate and was considered a game time decision.

The trade deadline acquisition Claude Giroux and captain Aleksander Barkov scored in the third period, leading the Panthers. Ryan Lomberg scored Florida’s first goal with a 2:29 tie after Nic Dowd put Capitals on the board.

Romberg’s scoring confirmed interim manager Andrew Brunett’s decision to replace Anthony Duclair in the lineup after scoring 31 goals in the regular season but only scoring once in the series. The Panthers need to attack everywhere they can get after failing to score in power play once again and extending the drought to 0/18 of the series.

Their most recent series win came on June 1, 1996, when they defeated Pittsburgh in Game 7 to advance to the finals. The Panthers are swept away by Colorado, where the 26-year wait between series wins begins.

With the exception of the extended Seattle Kraken, all other NHL franchises have won at least two series during that period. Detroit has 27 wins, Pittsburgh has 24, Tampa Bay has 22 and Colorado has 20. Florida waited just one win until Friday.

The Capitals haven’t won a playoff series since lifting the cup in 2018 and were eliminated in the first round at home for the third time during that time.

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