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Panthers' series win is 'a long time coming'
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Jonathan Huberdeau
Aaron Ekblad
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Positivity     46.00%   
   Negativity   54.00%
The New York Times
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Welcome to, the official site of the National Hockey LeagueBienvenue à , le site officiel de la Ligue nationale de hockeyTervetuloa NHL:n viralliselle nettisivustolle NHL.comiinVälkommen till, NHL:s officiella web-sidaVítejte na, oficiálních stránkách National Hockey LeagueVitajte na, oficiálnych stránkach National Hockey LeagueWillkommen auf, der offiziellen Seite der National Hockey LeagueBienvenido a, el sitio oficial de la National Hockey LeagueWASHINGTON -- Aleksander Barkov had waited so long for this that he almost didn't know what to think about next.So Barkov sat there smiling in the aftermath of the Florida Panthers' 4-3 overtime win against the Washington Capitals in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round on Friday absorbing the fact that for the first time in his career he was on the winning end of a series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs."For a little while it, felt like, what's happening right now?" Barkov said. That was long before Jonathan Huberdeau arrived in 2012, Barkov, now the Panthers captain, in 2013, and Aaron Ekblad in 2014.That core trio has experienced its share of disappointment, including losing in six games to the New York Islanders in the first round in 2016, losing again to the Islanders in four games in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers, and losing in six games to their rival Lightning in the first round last season.So when Carter Verhaeghe capped his incredible series by scoring the winning goal for the third straight game, this one 2:46 into overtime, there was a sense of relief for them and the organization."I feel it's off your shoulder a little bit," Huberdeau said." "Obviously, we lost last year and this year we wanted to win that first (series). Today it happened, so I think now we might as well go all the way."That's the boost of confidence the Panthers hoped to get from this series victory.The team was open from the start, talking about being nervous, about the added pressure of being a Cup favorite after winning the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL team with the best regular-season record, and about learning what it takes to win in the playoffs against an experienced Capitals team with much of its aging core remaining from its 2018 Stanley Cup championship.Video: Panthers win 1st round since 1996 with Game 6 victoryFlorida general manager Bill Zito had added some players with playoff experience, such as Claude Giroux, who was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers prior to the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, Verhaeghe, who signed with them as an unrestricted free agent after winning the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2020, and Patric Hornqvist, a two-time Cup winner who was acquired from the Penguins in 2020.But most of Florida's players had to experience winning this series to know the commitment involved."These things, you've got to go through them a few times to really get the feel of it," Panthers coach Andrew Brunette said.

As said here by Tom Gulitti