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Panthers do it again, rally to top Capitals in Game 5

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Carter Verhaeghe set a Florida postseason record with a five-point night, and the Florida Panthers escaped a three-goal deficit to beat the Washington Capitals 5-3 and take a 3-2 lead in an Eastern Conference first-round series Wednesday night.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 28 shots for Florida, which trailed 3-0 in the second period. Verhaeghe had two goals and three assists for the Panthers.

Patric Hornqvist, Claude Giroux and Sam Reinhart also scored for the Panthers, and Aleksander Barkov had two assists.

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T.J. Oshie scored twice for Washington, which also got a goal from Justin Schultz and two assists from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Ilya Samsonov stopped 33 shots.

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Florida Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe (23) scores a goal against Washington Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov (30) during the third period of Game 5 of the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs, Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. 

Florida Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe (23) scores a goal against Washington Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov (30) during the third period of Game 5 of the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs, Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. 
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

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Verhaeghe broke the Panthers’ playoff scoring record that Ray Sheppard set on a four-point night back on April 22, 1996 — which remains the last, and only, season in which the Panthers won a playoff series.

They can change that Friday, when Game 6 is played in Washington. Game 7, if necessary, would be back at Florida on Sunday.

Verhaeghe gave the Panthers their only lead at 3:04 of the third, after a pair of marvelous plays at both ends. He created a turnover deep in the zone, sent the puck to Barkov and then went into a full sprint for about 100 feet of ice to find a spot to receive the return pass.

Barkov put it on his stick, Verhaeghe put it into the net, and Florida led 4-3. Bobrovsky slammed the door from there, Giroux scored the insurance goal at 15:55, and the Comeback Cats had done it again.

This was the season of the comeback for Florida, which had an NHL-best 29 come-from-behind wins during the regular season. The Panthers pulled off five wins after trailing by three goals, and rallied in the final moments of Game 4 to force overtime in Washington before winning early in the extra session and tying the series.

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