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Caps specialize in win

The Flyers’ Sean Couturier, right, battles for the puck against the Capitals’ T.J. Oshie in the first period in Game 1.

Philadelphia Daily News/TNS

The Flyers’ Sean Couturier, right, battles for the puck against the Capitals’ T.J. Oshie in the first period in Game 1.

WASHINGTON — Special teams made a special impact for the Capitals in their first playoff game.

With a perfect penalty-killing effort and a power-play goal by John Carlson, Washington beat Philadelphia 2-0 Thursday in Game 1 of their first-round series.

Washington's penalty kill went 4 for 4 and frustrated the Flyers, who lost second-line center Sean Couturier to an upper-body injury in the second period.

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby had seven of his 19 saves on Philadelphia power plays in his third career playoff shutout. Flyers goalie Steve Mason stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced, giving up only Carlson's goal on a shot that deflected in off teammate Chris VandeVelde.

The Capitals went 1 for 6 on the power play.

Carlson's goal plus another at even strength by Jay Beagle late in the third was enough to take the series opener.

Holtby and Mason put on a goaltending show in a game that turned into a special-teams showcase. That played right into the Capitals' plans after finishing the regular season fifth in the NHL on the power play and second in penalty killing.

The trademark penalty kill was rolling in the first period, when Carlson went off for hooking and Brooks Orpik got sent to the box twice. The Flyers came up empty on all three of their first-period power plays, a combination of their own miscues, blocked shots and Holtby.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said before the game that special teams "can give you momentum or they can take some momentum away from you," and that came true. The Capitals killed off a fourth penalty in the second period to Dmitry Orlov before they got their turn.

Islanders 5, Panthers 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, as visiting New York opened with a victory over Florida, the top seed in the Atlantic Division. Thomas Greiss survived a shaky beginning and had 42 saves for the Islanders in his first playoff start, and Brock Nelson, Frans Nielsen and Ryan Strome added goals for New York. The teams meet against tonight in Sunrise. Reilly Smith had two goals and former Lightning players Teddy Purcell and Jussi Jokinen also had goals for Florida.

Pattern maintained: The Blackhawks and Blues played their fourth straight overtime playoff game in St. Louis late Wednesday, with a goal by captain David Backes giving host St. Louis a 1-0 win. Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith served the final game of a six-game ban for high-sticking.

Julien stays: The Bruins are sticking with coach Claude Julien for another season despite missing the playoffs two years in a row. General manager Don Sweeney said Julien is the right coach to guide the team through a "bumpy transition."

Around the league: The Rangers don't think goaltender Henrik Lundqvist's freak eye injury will keep him out indefinitely. Still, coach Alain Vigneault isn't sure Lundqvist will be ready in time for Saturday's Game 2 at Pittsburgh. And the Penguins are optimistic Evgeni Malkin can return to the lineup in this series. Malkin practiced with the team for the first time in five weeks.

Caps specialize in win 04/14/16 [Last modified: Thursday, April 14, 2016 11:21pm]
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