Sergei Bobrovsky nabs Game 4 win despite strong outing by Ilya Samsonov

The Florida Panthers beat the Capitals 3-2 in overtime Monday night to even their first-round series at two games apiece and send it back to Florida despite Washington nearly winning in regulation.

Ilya Samsonov faced a barrage of Panthers shots all night while Sergei Bobrovsky made clutch plays when his team needed him most.

Here’s how the goals fared in Game 4.

Ilya Samsonov (WSH)

2021-22 regular season: 44 G (39 starts), 23-12-5 record, .896 SV%, 3.02 GAA

Trailing 2-1 in the series, the Panthers came out firing in Game 4. Samsonov got the nod after limiting them to one goal on 30 shots on Saturday and he carried over that momentum into the early minutes of Monday’s game.

While only a few of the Panthers’ first period shots were serious challenges, Samsonov was a sturdy blocker in net. He flashed the leather on more than one occasion including this snag on a MacKenzie Weegar snap shot.

The Panthers did get on the board during some four-on-four play. Aaron Ekblad and Carter Verhaeghe took advantage of an odd-man rush to get right in front of Samsonov and Verhaeghe stuffed the puck home to tie the game at one goal apiece.

From there, however, both teams entered a scoring drought. The Panthers had possession of the puck for much of the second period but couldn’t find a way to beat Samsonov and the Capitals’ defense.

They outshot Washington 25-6 with 12 shots on goal and six high-danger shots. Penalties were a constant theme throughout the period and Samsonov was forced to stop multiple flurries of shots with a man down in front of him. Not a single one got past him, though Nick Jensen did bail him out by blocking a puck that popped out of Samsonov’s glove.

Samsonov continued his spectacular play into the third. The Panthers once again outshot Washington in the period and appeared on the brink of scoring at multiple junctures like this one.

Yet it wasn’t until the Panthers pulled Bobrovsky when they were finally able to beat the Capitals’ netminder. Florida used the extra man to create some traffic in front of Samsonov and Sam Reinhart took a stab at a loose puck to tie the game.

That sent the game to overtime, where the Panthers needed just two shots to the put the game away. Verhaeghe got his own rebound on a pad save by Samsonov and fired a second attempt just as a collision in the crease knocked the goalie’s stick away. Officials reviewed the play and determined that the Panthers didn’t cause Samsonov to miss.

Samsonov outplayed Bobrovsky but the vagaries of playoff hockey reared their ugly head and the Capitals let one slip away on their home ice.

Grade: B+

Sergei Bobrovsky (FLA)

2021-22 regular season: 54 G (53 starts), 39-7-3 record, .913 SV%, 2.67 GAA

Bobrovsky’s playoff woes returned in Game 3 after two solid games in net to begin the series. The Capitals knocked him around for five goals, marking the seventh time in his Stanley Cup playoff career that he allowed five goals in a game.

He looked much better early in Game 4, seeing mostly slap shots from the Capitals to open the contest. Washington managed only six shots on goal in the first but did score one on a Carlson shot from the high slot that hit TJ Oshie’s shin, bounced off the ice and danced past Bobrovsky to give the Capitals an early 1-0 lead.

From there, the Panthers took control of the puck and offered the Capitals very few chances to score on Bobrovsky. He coasted through the second period, seeing just four shots on goal and two high-danger chances.

It wasn’t until the third period when Bobrovsky was seriously challenged once again. Evgeny Kuznetsov secured the puck on a breakaway and lured Bobrovsky just enough out of position with a stick drag and flipped it over the goaltender’s head for a go-ahead score.

The veteran goalie did save the game for Florida when Marcus Johansson got past the Panthers’ blue liners for a breakaway opportunity. Johansson tried to flip one past Bobrovsky but he played it well and knocked the shot away. On the ensuing possession, he headed to the bench and the Panthers scored on the man advantage to force overtime.

Washington then didn’t attempt a single shot against Bobrovsky in overtime and he escaped Capital One Arena with a victory. Spencer Knight might have appeared in this game if things went wrong for Bobrovsky again, but he played well enough to give his team a chance to win and the Panthers made enough plays with their backs against the wall to get the victory.

Grade: B

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