NHL: Capitals take Game 1 against Bolts

Mike Harrington: All eyes on Ovechkin in Caps' first trip to East final since '98 win over Sabres

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Despite Backstrom's absence, the Capitals opened with a 4-2 win over the top-seeded Lightning.

The Washington Capitals maintained their postseason momentum and trounced the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. Defensively, both teams have their deficiencies. While Washington had two goals, the Lightning had just two shots on goal in the first period.

Tampa reached the Eastern Conference finals for a third time in four seasons and the fourth time since 2011. Alex Ovechkin struck on the power-play with seconds left in the first period.

The Capitals might also have the edge if the series ends up boiling down to goaltending. He made seven saves on seven shots. He had a.927 save percentage through 10 playoff starts. But playoff Holtby can be a game-changer in every single start.

Game 2 is scheduled for Sunday in Tampa, Florida. There were six Tampa Bay skaters on the ice - for a while. It worked so well they chose to sit him right on the glass in order to keep up the publicity.

Offensively, Tampa Bay is going to be a handful.

The Lightning, who began the third period with Louis Domingue replacing Vasilevskiy in net, got two quick goals.

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"We know how we have to play and we have to play that way for 60 minutes", Jay Beagle said.

The Capitals, who out-shot the Lightning 25-10 through 40 minutes, kept pouring it on in the second period.

There were questions concerning which Capitals team the Lightning would face: one suffering an emotional letdown after finally beating the Penguins to the conference final or one who would use the energy from slaying that playoff dragon to continue its quest for the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. The Lightning were assessed a too many men penalty on the play. The series could turn on Holtby vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy. His.927 SP is a hair better than Holtby's, though Vasilevskiy did post a mere.909 SP against the Bruins in Round 2. Up to that point, the Lightning - the NHL's highest-scoring team during the regular season - had allowed as many goals as they had shots.

So where are the Capitals three seasons later? The Lightning aren't far off, though, with the second-best unit left standing at a 26.3 percent success rate. But Nikita Kucherov's would-be breakaway goal was waved off because Tampa Bay had too many men on the ice.

It was Ovechkin's ninth goal of the postseason and fourth on the power play.

Washington added two goals in the second period to extend their lead to 4-0 and it was a hole Tampa just could not climb out of.

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