Three of those four Washington Capitals goals came in the opening 20 minutes.
The Capitals have two sure-fire Hall of Famers in Nicklas Backstrom and captain Alex Ovechkin. The Capitals are 4-0 in their last 4 playoff games as a favorite, 12-3 in their last 15 games as a favorite and 149-71 in their last 220 games playing on 1 days rest.
Part of that is having success on the power play - it was underwhelming Thursday, but not as bad as the usually good penalty kill - but those guys also need to score at even strength. After the Hurricanes staged a third-period comeback, Lars Eller put it away with 37 seconds left on an unassisted empty-net goal.
One night after watching the Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning blow a three-goal lead and lose 4-3 to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Capitals went up 3-0 at 18:05 of the first period and had the sellout crowd decked out in red fired up for the first playoff game in Washington since the franchise won its first title in June. Carolina generated more scoring chances, shot attempts and expected goals in that contest, but it wasn't enough for them to earn a crucial win on the road.
Backstrom struck first at 9:58 for the first goal of the series. Petr Mrazek has allowed three goals on 17 shots. The video flashed back on moments from various points of the players' and coaches' careers.
Three minutes and 12 seconds later Backstrom did it again. The 19-year-old scored twice, powering past John Carlson on one and firing in an Ovie-like one-timer on the other.
His second goal, on the power play, came with Backstrom right in front of the net and a centering pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Ovechkin pounced on a rebound. Last spring they finished with a 29.3 power play success percentage, which according to the team is the fourth-highest by a team in a single playoffs since the league started tracking the stat in the 1977-78 season. The Capitals recalled top prospect Ilya Samsonov to be their third goaltender for at least the first two games of the series.
Svechnikov scored both of the Hurricanes' (0-1) goals Thursday, and forward Lucas Wallmark assisted on both of them.
The Hurricanes are 13-13-2 against opponents from the Metropolitan Division.
"For us, just the execution of coming out of then defensive zone with possession or getting opportunities from them being aggressive like that could be executed a little bit better, and that's a five-man unit". First it was Jakub Vrana hooking Dougie Hamilton at 11:14 and T.J.
Game 2 is Saturday night in Boston. I think that we have a chance, and we feel good about the fact that we've got a good chance to win, and we believe in ourselves and in the guys. That was a really important part of the game.
Understood that a strong defensive game, including exceptional goaltending, will work to hold off Washington's powerful and talented offense at 5-on-5, as long as possible. Join the Stars And Sticks team!
It also might take Tom Wilson off his game and get him to doing something reactive. Carolina had 10 players making their playoff debuts, and its lineup had 342 games of playoff experience to Washington's 1,282. Now they will try to maintain their home-ice advantage by completing the two-game sweep at Capital One Arena.