PHILADELPHIA -- It was five years between Stanley Cup Playoff starts for Michal Neuvirth, but the Philadelphia Flyers goaltender looked pretty comfortable.
Neuvirth made 31 saves, including 12 in the third period, when the Flyers defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday.
The Capitals lead the best-of-7 series 3-1. Game 5 is at Verizon Center on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN; CBC; TVA Sports; CSN-DC, CSN-PH).
Neuvirth's outstanding play in the third period was the difference. His best saves came when he skated out to stop Andre Burakovsky from the bottom of the right circle with 9:50 left, and with 7:50 remaining, he kicked his left pad to deny Tom Wilson in front of the net.
Video: WSH@PHI, Gm4: Gostisbehere blasts puck home for PPG
"He stole one for us at the end," Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds said.
Rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who turned 23 on Wednesday, scored his first Stanley Cup Playoff goal. Andrew MacDonald also scored and Simmonds had two assists.
Flyers forward Scott Laughton was removed from the ice on a stretcher with 3:49 remaining in the first period after falling into the boards behind the Capitals' goal.
General manager Ron Hextall said Laughton would stay overnight at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for precautionary reasons but that all tests were negative.
T.J. Oshie scored for the Capitals and Braden Holtby made 23 saves.
Video: WSH@PHI, Gm4: MacDonald rifles it home to extend lead
Neuvirth started Game 4 after backing up Steve Mason in the first three games of the series. A lower-body injury sustained March 16 limited him to one game in the past month -- the regular-season finale against the New York Islanders on April 10.
It was his first playoff start since May 4, 2011 with the Capitals against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the conference semifinals.
"I felt a little rusty early during the game," Neuvirth said. "The guys did such a good job in front of me. I was just finding my rhythm. I think from the second period I was feeling really good. Just really happy with the effort tonight."
The Flyers made Neuvirth's job easier by allowing the Capitals two power plays. The Capitals had nine man-advantages in Game 3 and 17 in the first three games. They scored on eight of them.
"That was one of the reasons that we won the game," Neuvirth said. "That was our goal. And we didn't take any stupid penalties. Just a great team effort for 60 minutes. That's the way we've got to play."
Video: WSH@PHI, Gm4: Oshie backhands rebound to cut deficit
Coach Barry Trotz said the Capitals made it easy for Neuvirth for the first two periods by getting away from the things that had made them successful in the first three games.
"Didn't think we made their goaltender work very hard," he said. "I thought we made it a really easy night for him the first two periods. The third period we came with the effort that we're going to need to have for 60 minutes in terms of getting to the interior, making plays, using our speed, playing fast. All those things we're capable of doing."
The Flyers scored the first goal for the second straight game when Gostisbehere scored from the point with help from a Simmonds screen. It was the Flyers' first power-play goal in 14 chances in the series.
"It was huge," Simmonds said. "It was like taking a monkey off our back. ... To see that one go in really early was nice."
Giroux and Simmonds each assisted on the goal for their first points of the series. Giroux led the Flyers in points and Simmonds in goals during the regular season.
Video: WSH@PHI, Gm4: Laughton crashes into boards, exits
MacDonald pushed the Flyers' lead to 2-0 at 3:51 of the second period when his one-timer from the left point beat Holtby. It was MacDonald's second career Stanley Cup Playoff goal.
"We've had pretty good starts each game of this series," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "We haven't been able to build a lead, in most cases not even get a lead. We were able to do that tonight, build it to a two-goal lead, and most importantly we were able to sustain our play through the 60 minutes. Even through their push in the third period."
Trotz said that third-period push needs to be there for 60 minutes if the Capitals want to close the series.
Video: WSH@PHI, Gm4: Neuvirth denies Burakovsky to hold lead
"We're up 3-1," he said. "We want to make sure that we bring a real good effort in our own building, which we will."
Giroux is the only member of the Flyers' 2010 team that rallied from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Boston Bruins in the conference semifinals. He knows that it is possible but also how much work remains.
"A win like tonight can give us some confidence," he said. "Game 5 in Washington is going to be the toughest game of the series."
Video: Flyers stave off elimination, defeat Caps in Game 4