The Florida Panthers defeated the Washington Capitals in Game 6 to eliminate Alex Ovechkin’s team from 2022 after the season. Which means the cats will face either the Toronto Maple Leafs in an all-out thriller, or the Tampa Bay Lightning in the full Battle of Florida, depending on how Game 7 shakes up on Saturday.
Speaking of Game 7, the New York Rangers outplayed the remaining Pittsburgh Penguins to survive the first round series, and pushed the battle into Manhattan for the all-or-nothing conclusion.
And they did it in an eerily familiar way.
Here’s how things shook the first time Rangers managed to survive, in Game 5: Pittsburgh got off to a strong start, going 2-0 up. The Rangers woke up in the second half, tied it with two quick goals, and then added a third to take the lead. Pittsburgh managed to equalize with one of them, and tied the match with a score of 3-3, before the Rangers scored with two more goals in the third goal.
Here’s how Game 6 went: Exactly the same. Pence leads with two goals, two quick goals from New York to equalize, the third from Rangers to take the lead, another goal from Pittsburgh to equalize, and two more from Rangers to the ice.
copy and paste.
But the way these two games went with where each club is at the moment. In both matches, both teams proved their resilience, showing that they had enough talent to score key goals at crucial moments. But with all the bodies missing, the penguins seem to lack what they need to get past that last hill.
Being this close is impressive enough, considering they’re without their best striker (Sydney Crosby), two best net pros (Tristan Garry, Casey Desmith), and the most consistent defensive man (Brian Dumoulin), and the offensive balance that comes with The ability to unlock in Rijkaard Raquel.
They managed to get close, but they didn’t quite match the Rangers. Now they’re on one last shot to keep that train rolling.
Mika is making noises
After scoring 29 goals during the regular season, and amassing 151 goals over the past half-decade, Mika Zibanijad has found himself sitting with a goose egg in the goals column heading into this pivotal 6 game.
Regarded as one of the club’s main offensive threats, the 29-year-old scored just four assists during the first five games of the series. Most disturbing was the fact that he wasn’t helping himself by putting the pucks on the net. Zibanegad finished with the second most shots of any goalkeeper during the regular season, and had only three shots on the net during the team’s 1 game triple marathon. He came back alive with five rounds the next night, but in each of the past three games, he only had two shots.
Friday night, he finally started cracking Route 93.
It was the smooth-skating Swede who scored two quick goals to tie the game early in the second half – sniping a pair of one-twos with a minute-and-a-half difference – to keep his club in the fray. This pair ranks as the two fastest goals scored by any Ranger in the qualifiers in four decades. Zibanijad also became the only goalkeeper to score more than once in a potential elimination game since joining the organization.
Then he went out and set up the Rangers team next one Two goals to the side of Chris Kreider, put him away.
Zibanegad always comes in groups, and that remains true in these qualifiers. Finally, he finished Game 6 with six shots and four points, a crucial performance from one of New York’s most important captains as they keep their season alive.
CLAUDE comes over the clutch
Last night we saw a couple of teams take great advantage of their trading deadline captures, the St. Louis Blues secured a key goal from the deadline added Nick Lady to end their streak, and Humpus Lindholm looks great on his return to the Bruins, who were likewise a forced game 7.
Friday night, the season’s most famous deadlines also proved fruitful.
On three different occasions in Game Six, Claude Giroud showed the Panther leaders why he was worth the effort they gave up to bring him to town. The first came midway through the third inning, with the Capitals leading 2-1 as they looked to join the Game 7 parade. Eventually, Giroux began the sequence by airmailing him out of the area to safety. Carter Verhaghi got the puck to Aaron Ekblad, who ran forward in the attack zone.
By the time Eckblad looked at the platter, Giroud had sped along to join him – the 34-year-old took the pass, cut it with five holes, and held the match at each other.
With five minutes left in the frame, Giroud appeared big again, catching a scramble disc in front of the hat net and sending it to Alexander Barkov, who put him in the house to give Florida a temporary lead. A goal from TJ Oshie in the closing minutes of the period complicated matters once again, sending the tilt into overtime.
And there, in the hottest period of the Florida season, it was Giroux again, picking up the puck behind the Washington net and turning a fine pass to Verhaeghe, who made no mistake in the win.
The veteran didn’t completely dominate the course of the six-game series, but scored four points during his first five games nonetheless. Last time, though, he only flashed the kind of world-class skill that prompted the Panthers to go get him on the deadline, and it ended up being the difference.
What can be said about this hilarious run from Verhaeghe so far?
We listed a few nights ago just how important he was to the success of the Panthers on the end of their film series, but with each passing game, the 26-year-old continues to add more to the pile.
Over the first three games of the series, Washington came out with a 2-1 series lead, which looms large. Then the Cats won a triple in a row to close – and that’s what Verhaghi did in those three:
Game 4: Verhaeghe scores in the first goal to tie the match, then scores again in overtime to finish it. drawn string.
Game 5: With Florida trailing 3-0, Verhaeghe took the reins and led his team back – the Panthers put five goals in a row, finished 23rd in all five, set two goals himself and scored a starter assist on the other three. Florida takes the lead, pushing the hats to the brink.
Game 6: Just when it seems like a quiet night to Verhaeghe, only a minor pass to his name through three hard-earned stints, here he is with the series interlude in overtime—going to a roller skate, lifting the top shelf away from the game. Backhand. Yes.
In netting the last overtime winner, Verhaeghe joined the elite and elite company. He is only the fourth player in NHL history to score multiple additional goals in one year (others: Mill Hill in 1939, Maurice Richard in 1951, Corey Perry in 2017). He also became the 12th player in NHL history – and only the fourth in the past 20 years – to score a winning goal in three consecutive games.
He now has 12 points through these playoffs so far, and is tied with Conor McDavid for the top spot in the league. His six goals are only one difference behind the top of the league.
The wildest part of all of this: Guess how much did Florida pay this year for this global production? A good amount of one million dollars.
The former Bolts outcast, who totally appears to cats now, is ninthThe highest paid in Florida. He’s the 18th highest-paid player on the list overall – in fact, the penalty for reclaiming the Panthers hat for retired net striker Roberto Longo this season has cost them more than Vergaeghe ($1,092,122).
However, so far, Verhaeghe has been the most important Panther team in these playoffs, and he’s not particularly close.