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Can Caps, Flyers keep up the physical play?

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Can Caps, Flyers keep up the physical play?

Game 1 between the Capitals and Flyers featured 56 hits, 44 blocked shots, one heavyweight fight and a key player knocked out of the game.

It also featured an efficient 19-save shutout by Braden Holtby as the Capitals emerged with a 2-0 win Thursday night to grab early control of their first-round series against the Flyers.

“This is what we played 82 games for, to get to this position,” Capitals right wing Justin Williams said. “We earned home ice and we want to try and keep it.”

The Capitals got a power-play goal from defenseman John Carlson after a weird delay-of-game penalty to Brandon Manning in the second period and Jay Beagle turned a Shayne Gostisbehere giveaway into his first goal of the playoffs with 3:24 remaining in the third to secure home ice.

According to Elias, the team that wins Game 1 of a playoff series goes on to win the series 68.6 percent of the time. But can either team survive seven games of this?

“It’s going to be physical,” Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “I thought there was good speed tonight on our side. I thought we did a good job of negating their speed and penned them in their own zone a few times.”

The Caps outhit the Flyers 29-27, led by Alex Ovechkin, Brooks Orpik and Dmitry Orlov, all with four hits. More importantly, the Caps kept their cool in the third period, when the Flyers took nine penalties to the Caps’ five.

“Historically, that’s part of the Flyers,” Niskanen said. “They try to do things to change the momentum and I thought we stayed fairly disciplined tonight. We have enough leadership in here. Guys have been around and we know the tricks. If the game’s not going well they’re going to do something to change the momentum.”

The biggest and perhaps most consequential hit of the game came midway through the second period when Ovechkin rode Sean Couturier into the boards. Couturier, who centers the Flyers’ second line and vowed to get in the grill of Holtby this series, left the ice holding his left shoulder in place. He did not return and will re-evaluated on Friday.

MORE CAPITALS: COUTURIER OUT?

“It’s a big hit, a momentum changer,” Jay Beagle said of Ovechkin’s hit. “In a seven-game series it’s going to be very important to finish your checks and play the right way. It’s what we expected.”

Tom Wilson and Wayne Simmonds also engaged in the physicality, with both players dropping the gloves and leaving the game with 6:51 remaining in the third period. Wilson also received a boarding minor and Simmonds a roughing minor on the play, resulting in the Flyers’ top-line right wing watching the remainder of the game on TV in the visiting dressing room.

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Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin for Game 1

Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin for Game 1

As the Capitals and Penguins prepare to open their second-round series, significant injury news came out of Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Head coach Mike Sullivan informed the media that both Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin would not play in Game 1 due to injuries.

The fact that Hagelin would not be traveling with the team suggests that he will miss Game 2 as well, but that has not been confirmed. That also means that Malkin is at least a possibility for Game 2.

Malkin did not play in Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers after getting injured in a collision with Jakub Voracek in Game 5. Hagelin was injured in Game 6 on a big hit from Claude Giroux.

So when the series against Washington begins, Pittsburgh will be playing without two-thirds of its second line.

Malkin made a real push for the Hart Trophy this season with 42 goals and 98 points. He was a major factor in last season's Cup run with 28 points in 26 games and was gearing up for another big postseason with five points in his first five games.

But don't celebrate too much, Caps fans. It is not as if either loss will be crippling to Pittsburgh's offense.

Despite not having Malkin for the entire Game 6 and losing Hagelin midway through the second period, the Penguins still managed to put up eight goals on the Flyers in the series-clinching win.

Still, with scoring depth being such a strength for Pittsburgh, the Capitals need to take advantage. The Penguins will be without one of the best players in the NHL and that makes Game 1 crucial. Washington has gone down 0-2 in each of their past two playoff series including last year against Pittsburgh. They lost that series in seven games. They need to have a better start this year and with no Malkin or Hagelin for Game 1, this may be a must-win for the Caps.

Riley Sheahan and Dominik Simon skated with Phil Kessel on the second line at practice on Wednesday and it is a good bet that is how the second line will remain for Game 1. That way, Pittsburgh can keep its third line of Conor Sheary, Derick Brassard and Bryan Rust line together which has been very effective.

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NHL Playoffs 2018: Capitals vs. Penguins Game 1 Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

NHL Playoffs 2018: Capitals vs. Penguins Game 1 Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

Game 1 of the Capitals vs. Penguins 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff series is finally here.

The 2018 NHL Playoffs roll on and the two Metro division rivals will meet in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the third consecutive season.

Game 1 between the Capitals and Penguins will take place on Thursday, April 26 at Capital One Arena. The game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network at 7:00 p.m. ET.

The the dates and times for the remainder of the Capitals-Penguins series have yet to be released, but should happen shortly.

When the Penguins do take the ice in Game 1 of against the Capitals, they will be without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin. Both players were ruled out of action on Tuesday afternoon. Malkin will travel to Washington, D.C. and might be available for Game 2. Hagelin is not traveling with the team.

You can stream Game 1 between the Capitals and Penguins on NBC Sports Washington using the NBC Sports App. Caps FaceOff starts our broadcast coverage at 6:00 p.m., with Caps GameTime at 6:30.

Following the end of Game 1 between the Capitals and Penguins, tune in to NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra at 9:30 p.m. ET and Caps OverTime at 10:00 p.m. Times subject to change. 

What: Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, Game 1. 2018 NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 3:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC.

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 on NBC Sports' live stream page.

WHEN IS GAME 1 OF CAPITALS vs. PENGUINS PLAYOFF SERIES?

Game 1 of the Capitals vs. Penguins 2018 NHL Playoff series takes place on Thursday, April 26, 7:00 p.m. at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS vs. PENGUINS GAME 1 ON?

The TV broadcast of Game 1 between the Capitals and Penguins is on NBC Sports Network. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Penguins Game 1 on NBC Sports Network
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS vs. PENGUINS GAME 1?

Game 1 between the Capitals and Penguins is available to stream online on Thursday, April 26 live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR CAPITALS vs. PENGUINS GAME 1?

Capitals projected Lines: TBD

Penguins projected Lines: TBD

CAPITALS vs. PENGUINS GAME 1 OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF COVERAGE:
Ultimate Capitals vs. Penguins Preview
Game 6 showed the Evolution of Ovechkin