Braden Holtby and Washington Capitals open playoffs with a Game 1 shutout
Going into the locker room at the first intermission, the Washington Capitals had no goals but all the momentum.
Three successful penalty kills kept the Philadelphia Flyers off the scoreboard and the Capitals knew they’d get their chance.
When that happened, John Carlson scored on the power play Thursday night and the Capitals locked down defensively in a 2-0 victory at Washington in Game 1 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.
In a special-teams showcase, the Capitals leaned on their signature penalty killing and the goaltending of Braden Holtby.
Holtby stopped all 19 shots he faced in his third playoff shutout.
“He’s been great all year — he’s been standing on his head, winning us games and stealing us games,” said Jay Beagle, who scored the Capitals’ second goal. “With a bunch of [penalty kills], you have to rely on the goaltender quite a bit. He obviously stood on his head again tonight. Those PKs gave us momentum.”
The Capitals went four for four on the penalty kill and frustrated the Flyers, who got only eight shots on net after the first period.
at Dallas 4, Minnesota 0: Kari Lehtonen made 22 saves for his second playoff shutout and Jamie Benn had a goal and two assists for the Stars in a Game 1 victory.
Jason Spezza returned to the playoffs with a nifty goal and also had an assist.
Spezza was skating along the right side and initially faked a slap shot with about eight minutes to play in the second period. After skating a few more feet to near the center of the faceoff circle, he took a wrist shot and sent the puck in the upper right corner to make the score 2-0.
Patrick Eaves and Radek Faksa also scored.
New York Islanders 5, at Florida 4: John Tavares had a goal and two assists, including one that set up Kyle Okposo’s go-ahead goal early in the third period of the series opener.
Thomas Greiss survived a shaky beginning and made 42 saves for the Islanders in his first playoff start, and Brock Nelson, Frans Nielsen and Ryan Strome added goals for New York.
Home-ice advantage in the series now belongs to the Islanders, and they can take a 2-0 lead back to Brooklyn if they prevail when the series resumes in a quick turnaround Friday night.
Reilly Smith scored two goals and Jussi Jokinen had a goal and two assists for the Panthers.