WASHINGTON -- One year after feeling the sting of a seven-game elimination at the hands of the New York Rangers, the Washington Capitals have taken the first step toward evening the score.
A three-goal flurry in the span of just over 8 minutes midway through the second period sent the Capitals to a 3-1 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Rangers.
Alex Ovechkin scored on the power play and Marcus Johansson and Jason Chimera followed with goals just 46 seconds apart as the Capitals took the opening game of the series Thursday at the Verizon Center.
Carl Hagelin scored the lone goal for the Rangers.
The series resumes in the nation's capital on Saturday afternoon.
After four long days of practices and meetings for both teams the Capitals came out with better jump, getting off nine shots before the Rangers recorded their first.
Yet it was Carl Hagelin who scored the first goal of the series 16:44 into the first period. Hagelin swung around the back of the net and fired a shot that appeared to go off the skate of John Erskine and inside the far post.
It was Hagelin's first playoff goal in 18 career games and it silenced the sellout crowd.
The Capitals came to life in the second period, with Ovechkin igniting the fire with a power-play goal.
The NHL's leading goal scorer in the regular season, Ovechkin converged on an errant Mike Green shot that caromed off the boards and in front of the Rangers net. Ovechkin hammered a shot past Henrik Lundqvist for his 32nd career playoff goal in 52 games.
The Capitals killed off back-to-back penalties to Martin Erat and Eric Fehr midway through the second period, setting the stage for goals 46 seconds apart by Marcus Johansson and Jason Chimera.
Johansson's goal came after Steve Oleksy spring him free with a lead pass. The 22-year-old Swede snapped a wrist off Lundvist's catching glove and behind him for Washington's first lead of the playoffs with 5:39 remaining in the second period.
Forty-six seconds later Chimera celebrated his 34thbirthday with a no-look, turnaround shot from the left halfwall that found its way inside Lundqvistt's left post.
It was sweet vindication for Chimera, who finished the regular season with just three goals.
NOTES: NOTES: This is the third straight playoff meeting between the Rangers and Capitals and the fourth time they've met in five years. Since 2006, teams that have won Game 1 of the first round are 38-18 (.679) in those series. The Capitals entered the game 21-15 in playoff Game 1s and are 14-7 when starting a series on home ice. ... The Rangers arrived in the playoffs with a 44-47 record in series openers. The Rangers have won eight of their last 11 first-round playoff series. ... The Capitals had the No. 1 power play in the NHL this season while the Rangers were the least penalized team in the league. ... Alex Ovechkin received a standing ovation when it was announced on the scoreboard that he was awarded with his third Rocket Richard Trophy with an NHL-high of 32 goals in the regular season. ... Capitals right wing Joel Ward returned to the lineup after missing the previous nine games with a left knee bruise suffered on April 7. ... Washington was without forward Brooks Laich (groin). ... The Rangers were without forwards Brian Boyle (leg), Ryan Clowe (leg) and Derek Dorsett (broken clavicle) and defenseman Marc Staal (eye). Boyle, Staal and Dorsett are skating and the Rangers could have Boyle and Staal before the end of this series. ... The two teams will practice on Friday and return to game action Saturday at 12:30 in Washington.