It’s been months since the Washington Capitals were in a position where any particular game was especially important to the team, so the question going into Game 1 was if they could match the intensity of the Philadelphia Flyers, which had to claw their way into the postseason. Despite that potential contrast, Washington came out strong to earn a 2-0 victory in Game 1.
Washington outshot Philadelphia 31-19 and as has been the case throughout the campaign, Braden Holtby stepped up when the Capitals needed him to. This was his third career postseason shutout and just adds to his impressive body of work in the playoffs. Though he’s just 26 years old, he had a 1.92 GAA and .936 save percentage in 34 playoff contests going into this series.
The Capitals ran into penalty trouble in the first period, but it was Washington that capitalized on the power play. Defenseman John Carlson scored the game winner with the man advantage midway through the second period and Jay Beagle provided an insurance goal with 3:24 minutes remaining in the contest.
As disappointing as dropping Game 1 has to be for the Flyers, the key issue might be losing Sean Couturier in the second period after he absorbed a big hit from Alex Ovechkin. Couturier might have hurt his shoulder, but the Flyers are only calling it an upper-body injury. He’ll be re-evaluated tomorrow.
While there’s a lot left to plays, the Flyers had long odds going into this series and will have a lot riding on Game 2 on Saturday. That contest could get very physical too if the second half of the third period tonight was any indication.