Caps needed every goal scored in Game 1

Brian Tinsman
April 11, 2019 - 11:06 pm

The Washington Capitals took the first step of what could be a Stanley Cup defense this postseason, beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 on home ice.

But the game was the story of three different periods for both teams, and the game ended up much closer than the final score suggests.

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Thanks to a rare pair of goals from Nicklas Backstrom and a power play gem from Alex Ovechkin, the Caps surged in the second half of the first period, scoring three goals.

They held the Hurricanes scoreless for 45 minutes of play but ended up holding on for dear life as Andrei Svechnikov scored a pair of goals and put Carolina in position to tie the game late.

WATCH: Alex Ovechkin Smokes a Power Play Goal

Aside from the first period, the Caps had a lethargic evening on offense, failing to win faceoffs (42 percent) or create offensive opportunities (just 18 shots on goal). The difference in the game was special teams, where the Caps were two-for-four and the Hurricanes failed in all three opportunities.

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The best chance came after T.J. Oshie got called for a blatant high-sticking penalty on Sebastian Aho with 3:31 remaining. The Caps' killed the power play with just four shots on goal.

Coming back to full strength with 1:31 remaining, the Hurricanes had little choice but to pull the goalie and go on the attack. The Caps ripped two shots down the ice looking for the empty-net goal, before Lars Eller did what he does so well and put the game on ice with an empty-netter with 0:37 left:

The Caps passed the first test without playing their best hockey, and that shouldn't understated. They didn't get "lucky," but they did find a way to win on a night when the stats suggest they weren't the best team.

The Caps can't get away with many of these in the playoffs, but most champions have games like this.

All wins count the same at this point. The hometown crowd certainly understands that:

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Related: RUSSELL: Five Caps stars from Game 1