Capitals jump out to early lead, hang on to beat Hurricanes
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin combined to score three goals on the first eight shots, and the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals survived a surge from Andrei Svechnikov and the Carolina Hurricanes to win Game 1 of their first-round series 4-2 on Thursday night.
Backstrom scored twice and Ovechkin scored on the power play to fire up a raucous sellout crowd in the first playoff game in Washington since celebrating the franchise’s first title in June. Defenseman John Carlson tied an NHL playoff record with three assists in one period. Lars Eller sealed with an empty-netter with 36.6 seconds left.
It looked as though the Capitals would roll toward a statement victory against an opponent lacking playoff experience, but the pesky Hurricanes turned up the heat. Petr Mrazek bounced back from a rough start to make four huge saves early in the third period, while Svechnikov scored twice in his playoff debut to put some fear into the Capitals. Braden Holtby made 27 saves and the penalty kill came up big on two late Carolina power plays to allow Washington to take a 1-0 series lead. Game 2 is Saturday in Washington.
The Hurricanes were playing their first playoff game since 2009 after ending the league’s longest drought.
BOSTON (AP) — Mitch Marner scored twice, the second on a short-handed penalty shot to give Toronto the lead for good, and Toronto won the opener of the first-round playoff series. It was the Maple Leafs‘ first postseason penalty shot in 20 years.
Frederik Andersen made 37 saves and William Nylander and John Tavares also scored for Toronto, which swiped the home-ice advantage in the best-of-seven series as it tries to advance through Boston for the first time in six tries.
Game 2 is Saturday night in Boston.
FLAMES 4, AVALANCHE 0
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Matthew Tkachuk scored twice, Mike Smith made 26 saves for his first playoff shutout in nearly seven years, and the Flames blanked the Colorado Avalanche in Game 1 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series.
The shutout was Smith’s first in the postseason since May 20, 2012, when he made 36 stops while with the Phoenix Coyotes to shut out the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 of the Western Conference final.
Game 2 is Saturday night in Calgary.