WASHINGTON -- What it means: The Capitals erased a 1-0 first-period deficit with three unanswered goals to take Game 1 of their first-round series with a 3-1 win against the Rangers at Verizon Center in D.C. Harnessing the momentum in their own building, the Caps took control of the game with a second-period surge that started with Alex Ovechkin's game-tying goal, continued with a failed Rangers' 5-on-3 power-play, and was capped by a pair of markers within a span of 46 seconds. Capitals netminder Braden Holtby was impressive in making 35 saves to give the Caps a 1-0 series edge Thursday night.
All tied up: With his first goal of the playoffs, Ovechkin knotted the game at 1 in the second period with a man-up goal for the Caps’ top-ranked power-play unit. Ovechkin crashed the net to bury Mike Green’s point shot, which banked off the boards wide, at 6:59 to spark the Capitals second-period surge.
Goal? Again? The sea of red at Verizon Center was rocking after the Capitals killed off a critical, 56-second 5-on-3 power-play for the Rangers that resulted from a heated skirmish in front of Washington’s net. The Caps killed off the remaining 5-on-4 as well and carried that momentum to pad their lead in the middle frame with two goals in a span of 46 seconds. Caps defenseman Steven Oleksy made a beautiful tape-to-tape pass to find Marcus Johansson behind the Rangers defense for a seamless breakaway goal at 14:21 and veteran Jason Chimera extended the lead less than a minute later. Chimera, who has been an absolute nightmare for the Rangers in previous playoff series, threw the puck on net for a 3-1 lead with 4:53 remaining.
Tough break: Though it appeared the Rangers might have pulled within a goal late in the third, a lengthy video review on defenseman John Moore's attempt upheld the initial ruling on the ice: no goal. Moore's shot was snagged by Holtby behind his back, and though it appeared Holtby's blocker was in the net, the video evidence was not enough to overturn the call.
Mis-lead: Dominated for most of the first period, the Rangers escaped with a 1-0 lead on Carl Hagelin’s wraparound goal with 3:16 remaining – a shot that banked in off Capitals defenseman John Erskine’s skate. Meanwhile the Capitals controlled possession for much of the frame, with Lundqvist the sole reason the Rangers avoided an early hole. Lundqvist made 9 saves before the Rangers registered their first shot on goal 8:07 into play.
Close call: Ovechkin had a prime opportunity to tie the game late in the first period when a breakaway left him all alone against Lundqvist, but the three-time Rocket Richard trophy winner couldn’t squeeze the puck inside the right post and hit iron instead with less than a minute remaining.
Up next: Game 2, Saturday in D.C. at 12 p.m.