Verhaeghe’s ‘clutch’ gene comes through again with Game 2 OT goal

No stranger to scoring Stanley Cup game-winning goals, Carter Verhaeghe’s Game 2 overtime heroics likely garnered a few extra special messages from his mom, Karen.

Verhaeghe’s ‘clutch’ gene comes through again with Game 2 OT goal

Featured Photo: Getty Images

Already carrying an impressive record of 34 points over 45 career playoff games coming into the 2023-24 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Carter Verhaeghe quickly tacked on three points in two games including his fifth playoff overtime goal to help the Florida Panthers to a Game 2 victory in their First Round series.

It was a situation all too familiar for Verhaeghe, who scored his 17th Stanley Cup Playoffs goal against his former squad, the Tampa Bay Lightning, in the Battle of Florida.

Verhaeghe’s 17 goals currently leads the Panthers’ franchise in all-time playoff goals, and with the most recent tally, he became the 6th player in NHL history to record five or more playoff overtime game-winners.

He joined the likes of Joe Sakic and Maurice Richard, who are the only players to have recorded six or more, and matched Glenn Anderson, Corey Perry and Patrick Kane with five apiece.

“Those are some pretty good players. … Being in the conversation with those guys is crazy.” said Verhaeghe postgame, after he roofed a backhand shot past Andre Vasilevskiy at 2:59 of overtime to take the second game with his second goal of the series.

“He’s got the clutch gene. He was born with it, man.” said teammate Aaron Ekblad following the game.  

It likely wasn’t only Ekblad and Panthers teammates celebrating the moment. Naturally, one of Verhaeghe’s biggest supporters is his mom, Karen, who was most definitely celebrating while wearing her son’s jersey as she watched.  

In May 2022, Karen told, “At home, I wear the jersey. When good things happen, usually, I don’t even see it. I see the celebration and I have to go back and rewatch it. It’s almost like, ‘What just happened there?’

Following big wins, Karen will pick up her phone and search for a message that will best express her emotions and send it to Carter.

“Usually, it’s something crazy that happened, so I send Carter a GIF of some crazy lady who’s so excited. It starts with a text flurry of excitement and later on when he gets back to the room, he’ll send me a nice text back.”

It’s a message familiar to Verhaeghe as he and the Cats continue to battle through the first round and look to ultimately bring the Stanley Cup back home for continued celebrations.