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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Can Capitals Overcome Long Odds for 2nd Title in 4 Years?

  • Washington rallied in the third period to stun No. 1-overall seed Florida in Game 1.
  • It was the 20th third-period comeback postseason win in Capitals history.
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Capitals were the last team in the Eastern Conference to clinch an NHL playoff berth — but no one should sleep on a team featuring arguably the greatest goal-scorer of all time and at least one other likely future Hall of Famer.

On Tuesday, the Caps pounced on the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Panthers in Game 1 with a comeback 4-2 road victory. Florida, which led 2-1 entering the third, was 39-0-1 in the regular season when leading after two periods.

Behind stars Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, the Caps — on the 12th-highest payroll ($86.1M) but with the fourth-worst odds (+2500) — are a serious dark horse for their second Stanley Cup.

  • Washington has the best road record in the NHL (25-10-6), and Tuesday was the franchise’s 20th third-period comeback postseason win.
  • Ovechkin’s assist gave him 136 postseason points, third among active players (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin).
  • Backstrom recorded his franchise-leading 73rd postseason assist. 
  • The Caps’ core (Ovechkin, Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Tom Wilson) account for $43.1M of the payroll.

Washington hasn’t made it past the first round since hoisting the Cup in 2018 and entered the series +260 just to win the round.

Now they’re a much more realistic +150, and the Panthers, the top overall seed, face a must-win Game 2.

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