The Washington Capitals fly south to face the Florida Panthers Wednesday in Game 5 of their 1st-round Eastern Conference playoff series tied 2-2. Puck drop from FLA Live Arena is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2). Below, we look at the Capitals vs. Panthers odds and lines, and make our expert NHL picks, predictions and bets.
The Caps threw away a golden opportunity to go up 3-1 and potentially steal this series by losing 3-2 in OT Monday. They were outshot 32 to 16 in Game 4 and just folded like a lawn chair.
Panthers C Sam Reinhart tied the game at 2-all with 2:04 left in the game, and C Carter Verhaeghe ended it 4:57 into overtime. The Capitals didn’t even get a shot on goal in the extra frame.
Caps LW Alex Ovechkin has been borderline invisible despite having points in each game. He had just 2 shots on goal in Game 4, and he has just 1 goal in the series.
The Panthers are 0-for-13 on the power play in the 4 games, but they have managed to find ways to win. Florida is proving it’s deeper than Washington – this series could have easily shifted the Panthers’ way.
Capitals at Panthers odds and lines
- Money line: Capitals +175 (bet $100 to win $175) | Panthers -220 (bet $220 to win $100)
- Against the spread (ATS): Capitals +1.5 (-130) | Panthers -1.5 (+105)
- Over/Under (O/U): 6.5 (O: -125 | U: +100)
Capitals at Panthers projected goalies
Ilya Samsonov (23-12-5, 3.02 GAA, .896 SV%, 3 SO – regular season) vs. Sergei Bobrovsky (39-7-3, 2.67 GAA, .913 SV%, 3 SO – regular season)
Samsonov played well in Game 4, but the Panthers capitalized – no pun intended – on some fortunate bounces. His 29 saves gave him 75 in the series on 79 shots for a .949 SV%. Sammy has given his team a chance to win the series, but he’s up against it in enemy territory Wednesday.
Bobrovsky has been so-so in the series, and that’s all he has to do for his world-class offense to win games. Bobrovsky wasn’t tested in Game 4, as he only had to save 14 of 16 shots. He has an OK .900 SV% (99 saves on 110 shots) in the series.
Caps All-Star RW Tom Wilson (lower body) will travel with the team, but he remains questionable for Game 5. He’s a big, physical player. The question is: How much of him can you expect to get at less than 100% health?
Florida is heavily favored, and that’s where we side, but there’s no chance we’re betting the -220 prices. So PASS there.
However, if Wilson is active for Washington and forces Florida’s line to drop to -200 or lower, I’d consider it.
There’s some risk here as Samsonov has really fortified Washington’s back end, but Game 4 provided a wake-up call for the top-seeded Panthers. I’d be surprised if they lost another game in the series, and I expect them to win in convincing fashion.
LEAN PANTHERS -1.5 (+105).
The Under has hit in 3 of the 4 games, but Florida has just 11 goals after scoring 4.1 per game in the regular season. The Panthers found themselves late in Game 4, and they’re ready to roar.
With the Panthers 0-for-13 on the PP, I would have guessed they were at best down 3-1 in the series. That gets cleaned up, and we’ll LEAN OVER 6.5 (-125).
Or if you’d like to wait until after the puck drops to catch an in-game “live” bet at either Over 6.5 at plus-money or catch an Over 5.5, that was successful a lot in the regular season with Florida games.