Brind'Amour pulled Mrazek for an extra skater with 2:26 to play to make it a two-man advantage, but the Capitals killed the penalty and Washington forward Lars Eller iced the game with an empty-net goal with 37 seconds left.
Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates after scoring a first period goal against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Capital One Arena on April 11, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Backstrom's five-on-five goal came from above the circles, and the Caps' other two goals in the first came off the power play.
Rookie Andrew Mangiapane and Mikael Backlund also scored as Calgary won its first playoff game since beating Anaheim 4-3 in overtime on May 5, 2015.
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"It's a tough game - we did a lot of good things", Brind'Amour said.
"If we can execute out of the zone quicker, their [defensemen] are very aggressive - much like Tampa past year, I would say - and if we are going to make plays and be able to execute plays behind them, we are going to get odd-man rushes all night". Oshie has recorded four goals and five assists over the last 10 games for Washington.
Williams is the tie that binds them after spending the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons with Washington before returning to Carolina. The Capitals are 4-0 in their last 4 playoff games as a favorite, 12-3 in their last 15 games as a favorite and 149-71 in their last 220 games playing on 1 days rest. Braden Holtby gave up two goals on 29 shots to earn the win. The Hurricanes are also 0-4 in their last four games as an underdog and 4-7 this season when on the road with a total of 5.5.
"Nicky to a T is one of the best guys overall out there for us, on and off the ice, a guy that sets a tone for this hockey club, and a guy we all look up to, and him sacrificing the body is what it takes this time of year", Tom Wilson said after the game.
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Three minutes and 12 seconds later Backstrom did it again. "I liked our first period; it's just unfortunate we got down three". We've seen them; they're a well-coached team that has discipline in terms of how they do things systematically, so we knew that they were going to be down aggressively on the forecheck with their defense pinching down often. "We can learn from that".
"We're here. We can play with them", defenceman Jaccob Slavin said.
Former Capitals coach Barry Trotz was the first to put Kuznetsov up against opponents' top lines, and the offensively minded Russian star embraced the challenge. This ended up a thrilling, even-matched game at even strength, but not before the damage was done. I'm going with Carolina to even this series up today. They can take a step in that direction this summer with the draft.
Aho will need plenty of help if the Hurricanes are going to knock off the defending champs.
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But they needed someone to step up and be the focal point of the offense, and D'Angelo Russell was more than happy to comply. But [the 76ers] lost their first playoff game past year , too, so we're a humble group and we know how far we've got to go.
"Obviously special teams got us, and that's pretty much the whole story in that game".