“He’s been great all year — he’s been standing on his head, winning us games and stealing us games,” said Jay Beagle, who scored the Capitals’ second goal. “With a bunch of (penalty kills), you have to rely on the goaltender quite a bit. He obviously stood on his head again tonight. Those PKs gave us momentum.”
The Capitals went 4 for 4 on the penalty kill and frustrated the Flyers, who got only eight shots on net after the first period and lost second-line centre Sean Couturier to an upper-body injury midway through the second. Couturier appeared to injure his left arm or shoulder on a hit by Alex Ovechkin and didn’t return.
“All I know is we had to go without him for the rest of the game tonight,” Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol said. “I won’t go any further than that.”
Couturier’s absence could be crushing for the Flyers, especially after they missed several opportunities to score on the power play. The Capitals’ penalty kill, which ranked second in the NHL during the regular season, was up to the task early and often.
“If they score there, it’s a totally different game,” said centre Nicklas Backstrom, who assisted on Carlson’s power-play goal. “We were staying aggressive and we didn’t allow them too much.”
ISLES 5, PANTHERS 4: John Tavares had a goal and two assists, including one that set up Kyle Okposo’s go-ahead goal early in the third period, and the New York Islanders beat the Florida Panthers 5-4 in Game 1 Thursday night.
The club recalled Magnus Hellberg from their AHL affiliate in Hartford, but remain hopeful Lundqvist can play on Saturday afternoon with the Rangers facing a potential 2-0 series deficit.
FLEURY IN LIMBO: Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t sound convinced that he would be ready to return for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ next playoff game.
Fleury said he was hopeful to start Game 2 against the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon, but wasn’t certain. The 31-year-old looked to be in line for the Game 1 start on Wednesday night but was ultimately deemed not ready to return from a concussion that’s kept him out since March 31.
“Still a work in progress, I think,” Fleury said Thursday afternoon, appearing to choose his words carefully following an optional skate with teammates. “I think it’s moving along. Hopefully it’s good enough for Saturday.”
Seguin practiced this week for the first time since missing the last 10 games of the regular season with a slight cut of his left Achilles tendon.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Seguin should be ready to make his series debut in Game 2 against Minnesota on Saturday night. Ruff said Seguin likely would have played Thursday night had it been a Game 7.
The Wild had already announced they would be without forwards Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek, who didn’t travel to Dallas for Games 1 and 2.