The Washington Capitals will shoot for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinals when they host the New York Rangers in Saturday's Game 2 encounter at Verizon Center.
The third-seeded Capitals, who won their fifth Southeast Division title in six years, used a strong performance by goaltender Braden Holtby to take the early lead in this opening-round battle.
Holtby made 35 saves, including 28 over the final two periods, to help the Capitals grab a 3-1 victory in Thursday's Game 1 in D.C.
"It's a win and we need to move on, simple as that," said Holtby. "We need to watch the video tomorrow and see what we did right, and what we did wrong, and be ready for the next game. In my mind there's no individual who wins a game, this is a team sport."
Alex Ovechkin, Jason Chimera and Marcus Johansson all scored in the second period for the Capitals, who fell behind 1-0 in the first stanza before charging back for the win.
Washington will try to grab a 2-0 lead in the series before it shifts to New York for Games 3 and 4. The Rangers will host the next meeting on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
Carl Hagelin had the lone goal of the game for the sixth-seeded Rangers, who are in the playoffs for a third straight year. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots in the loss.
Washington went 1-for-5 on the power play in the win, while the Rangers failed to score on four opportunities with the man advantage.
The Rangers got the only goal of the first period when Hagelin's wraparound from the right side hit off the skate of Washington's John Erskine and snuck into the net at the 16:44 mark. However, Holtby kept it a one-goal game by making a save on a Hagelin breakaway during a Washington power play around a minute into the second period.
The Caps finally broke through while on another power play later in the second. With Arron Asham in the box, a slap shot from Mike Green in the high slot went wide to the left of the net, but it bounced out front and Ovechkin one-timed it home 6:59 in.
"I'm not so sure Asham's was a penalty but they called it, though," said New York head coach John Tortorella. "We can't take that many penalties in a game. You can't take two in a row so hopefully we'll be more disciplined in the next game."
These two clubs are familiar foes in the postseason of late, as this is the fourth time in the past five years they have met. The Capitals took the first two matchups, but the Rangers won a seven-game series in the conference semifinals last year.
Washington has won four of the seven all-time playoff series between these two clubs, but the Rangers took two of three from the Capitals in the regular season
The Capitals had winger Joel Ward back in the lineup for Game 1 after he missed the final nine games of the regular season with a knee injury.
New York defenseman Marc Staal hasn't played since suffering a serious eye injury on March 5, but he hopes to return for this series. He is questionable for Game 2.