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Instant analysis: Flyers vs. Capitals, Game 1

Not much opportunity 5-on-5; Philadelphia will miss injured Couturier

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Verizon Center on Thursday.

In a battle of special teams, the Capitals went ahead on defenseman John Carlson's power-play goal with 3:39 left in the second period. Jay Beagle scored on a 3-on-2 with 3:24 remaining in the third. Goaltender Braden Holtby made 19 saves for his third postseason shutout.

What we learned: Neither team was able to generate much offensively 5-on-5. The goaltenders played well. Carlson's shot deflected off Philadelphia's Chris VandeVelde high in the zone before bouncing in past Steve Mason, and Beagle scored on an odd-man rush. The Flyers did a good job getting the puck behind Capitals defensemen to generate chances and offensive-zone possession time, but weren't able to do that in the final two periods. The Capitals killed four Flyers power plays. Each team needs to play with more discipline; they combined for 10 power plays. The Capitals were 1-for-6.

What this means for the Capitals: Washington won on home ice but probably feels it needs to play better offensively in Game 2. Defensively, the Capitals were able to move out of their zone efficiently with the puck in the final two periods.

Video: PHI@WSH, Gm1: Carlson sneaks puck past Mason for lead

What this means for the Flyers: Philadelphia lost the game and its best defensive center when Sean Couturier appeared to injure his left shoulder or arm on a second-period hit from Alex Ovechkin. Winning this series will be difficult if Couturier is out.

Key moment: The Flyers had a chance to jump on the Capitals with three power plays in the opening 16:14 but could not score. That failure became more glaring when the Capitals scored on their third power play with Carlson's goal.

Unsung player of the game: Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen played a game-high 25:04, including 5:01 on the penalty kill to anchor a defense that held the Flyers to eight shots on goal over the final two periods. He also blocked three shots.

What's next: Game 2 is at Verizon Center on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-DC, CSN-PH). Couturier's status for that game is unknown.

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