Although the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup 10 months ago, it feels as if it was just yesterday that the 2018 postseason came to a close, and now, it's already the 2019 playoffs.
Last night, the Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes, as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche, started their respective playoff series, and there was no lack of action. Here's how Thursday's games played out.
Capitals top Hurricanes, 4-2
Although the Capitals were struggling to get scoring chances halfway through the first period, two goals from Nicklas Backstrom and a power-play goal from Alex Ovechkin put Washington up 3-0 over Carolina after the opening frame, and the score would hold through the second period.
However, Andrei Svechnikov had two goals in the third to bring the Hurricanes within one as they ignited a late rally. However, the comeback was stopped short thanks to blocks and strong defense from Backstrom and company, and Lars Eller was able to score on the empty net to secure the victory.
The Caps have a 1-0 series lead over Carolina in their first playoff series agianst the Hurricanes, and will look to carry that success over into Game 2. However, the Hurricanes proved to be dangerous Thursday, and are ready to compete and tie things up.
Maple Leafs dominate Bruins, 4-1
Heading into Thursday's Game 1, the Maple Leafs were reminded of their previous playoff demons against Boston, but they a glimpse that perhaps things would be different this season with an impressive Game 1 victory Thursday.
Patrice Bergeron gave the Bruins an early 1-0 lead with a power-play tally, but Mitch Marner followed up with two consecutive goals, scoring one shorthanded on a penalty shot, and William Nylander also scored on a breakaway to put the Leafs up 3-1 heading into the third. John Tavares added another goal in the final frame, and also recored an assist in the win.
Toronto now holds a 1-0 series lead over Boston and will look to continue capitalizing on their offense in order to finally overcome the Bruins and advance to the second round.
Flames blank Avalanche, 4-0
Calgary proved their worth as the top team in the Western Conference to close out the season, and the Flames' success carried into the playoffs as they defeated the Avalanche, a team that has had its fair share of struggles this year.
Andrew Mangiapane opened the scoring for the Flames late in the first, and from there, Calgary continued to dominate. Matthew Tkachuk had two goals, and Mikael Backlund also added a tally in the victory. But the first star of the night was 37-year-old goaltender Mike Smith, who made 26 saves to shut out Colorado and also had an assist on Tkachuk's second goal of the game in the third period.
Having qualified for the playoffs just three times over the last 10 years, the Flames made a statement with their Game 1 performance and established themselves as early favorites with their victory. They now have a 1-0 series lead.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS:
- Hit Rewind: A look back at the Caps' regular season
- Transactions: Caps sign Nic Dowd to three-year extension
- Wild Seasons: Playoffs, regular season prove to be different beasts