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Eastern Conference Final | Lightning vs. Capitals

game recap

Ovechkin, Capitals top Lightning in Game 1

Has goal, assist for Washington; Vasilevskiy pulled for Tampa Bay

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

TAMPA -- Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist for the Washington Capitals in a 4-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final at Amalie Arena on Friday.

Michal Kempny, Jay Beagle and Lars Eller scored, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie each had two assists, and Braden Holtby made 19 saves for the Capitals.

 

[WATCH: All Capitals vs. Lightning highlights | Complete Lightning vs. Capitals series coverage]

 

"We just realized we just have to play our way," Ovechkin said. "It doesn't matter which position we are, which round it is, and you can see the effort in the guys, starting from [Holtby] and everyone, I think. Everybody was all in and everybody was paying the price."

Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat scored, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 21 saves for the Lightning.

Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is here Sunday.

"We're in the conference final and we just didn't treat it that way," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "I'm not taking anything away from Washington. They came out and executed their game plan. They played simple, turned their breaks into power plays and capitalized on them. We didn't. We didn't earn our breaks."

Washington outshot Tampa Bay 9-2 in the first period and 25-10 through the second.

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm1: Kempny snaps one through traffic

Kempny gave Washington a 1-0 lead at 7:28 of the first period, scoring glove side on a wrist shot from the point that beat a screened Vasilevskiy for his first career goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Nikita Kucherov appeared to tie the game at 19:52, but the Lightning were called for too many men on the ice.

Ovechkin scored a power-play goal 1.8 seconds later off the face-off to make it 2-0. Oshie won the draw back to Kuznetsov, who passed to Ovechkin for a one-timer in the high slot.

"That's just execution," Stamkos said. "Right off the draw we know what they're going to do, they're trying to get it to Ovechkin for a shot. We were just a step behind on our reads today. We can't do that at this time of the year."

Lightning forward Alex Killorn said Eller was trying to set a pick off the face-off, pushing him to the right as he was trying to come out to block Ovechkin's shot.

"It's just one of those things where I probably have to jump out quicker on him," Killorn said.

Beagle extended the lead to 3-0 at 2:40 of the second period, scoring on a backhand from in front. Eller scored to make it 4-0 with a power-play goal at 6:42.

"For the most part, that's the best we played through the neutral zone," Capitals defenseman John Carlson said.

Vasilevskiy was pulled to start the third period and replaced by Louis Domingue, who made seven saves in his NHL playoff debut.

Stamkos made it 4-1 at 3:45 of the third period on the power play, scoring on a one-timer off a cross-ice pass from Kucherov. Palat cut it to 4-2 at 13:03, beating Holtby short side from the left face-off circle.

"It feels like we are all in, and all in is kind of becoming our standard with our play," Oshie said.

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm1: Eller slams in rebound for PPG

 

Goal of the game

Beagle's goal at 2:40 of the second period.

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm1: Beagle slips puck past Vasilevskiy

 

Save of the game

Holtby's save on Braydon Coburn at 7:31 of the second period.

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm1: Holtby snags Coburn's shot

 

Highlight of the game

Ovechkin's goal at 19:54 of the first period.

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm1: Ovechkin rips home PPG late in the 1st

 

They said it

"This group is having fun. They're calm. They've got a really good work ethic. And really, we're just trying to earn the right to keep playing and nothing more. When you have a real good group that likes to be around each other and have these moments and play in the playoffs, you don't want those to go away." -- Capitals coach Barry Trotz

 

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm1: Trotz on quick start, Game 1 win

 

"Whatever we did tonight, we've got to do the exact opposite on Sunday. We didn't play our game at all. They did, but we sure didn't. They were on top of us. They gave us no time and space. They had a lot of O-zone time and we just couldn't get through them and get a forecheck sustained. We just have to regroup and have a good start on Sunday." -- Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi

 

"They were playing an Eastern Conference Final, and we were playing Game 38. That's basically what it was." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper

 

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm1: Cooper talks Game 1 loss, slow start

 

Need to know

The Capitals won Game 1 for the first time this postseason. … Washington forward Nicklas Backstrom (right hand) missed his second straight game. … Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky played 14:02 with one shot on goal returning to the lineup for the first time since April 15. He missed 10 games with an upper-body injury.

 

What's next

Game 2 of Eastern Conference Final at Amalie Arena on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)

 

Video: Ovechkin, Capitals beat Lightning in Game 1, 4-2

 

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