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The Eastern Conference Final.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said earlier in the week the Lightning can not make a habit of losing Game 1 of the series.

Friday's 4-2 victory over the Lightning was sublime - most of the time. Washington leads the best of seven series, 1-0.

Game 1 wasn't decided by one play, but it may have been decided by three quicks.

Capitals: D John Carlson drew an assists on the first goal, tying the franchise mark for playoff points by a defenseman with 12.

So instead of the game being tied 1-1, Washington took a 2-0 lead into the intermission on Ovechkin's powerplay goal and then jumped out to a 3-0 cushion when Beagle scored, only 2:40 into the second period. Palat added his goal at 13:03, trimming Washington's lead to 4-2.

Washington spent two flawlessly the start of the period and has naturally selected the "Tampa" home ice advantage.

The Capitals were able to win despite not having Backstrom in the lineup.

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Stamkos said there were no excuses for coming out flat in Game 1 after a long layoff between series. Instead of making simple plays and getting pucks on net, they looked for the flawless shots.

It was a lackluster first period for the Lightning, which had not played since clinching their semifinal series with Boston on Sunday.

"We were six men by a mile, so I don't think anyone was too fired up with the goal", said Lightning forward Steven Stamkos.

Just two seconds later, the Capitals scored on the powerplay in front of a crowd of 19,090 at Tampa's Amalie Arena. At even-strength, Eller was on the ice for 18 shot attempts for and 13 against, giving him a 58.06 percent CorsiFor percentage. If Eller can continue to win his battles, the Capitals might be able to pull off the upset even without Backstrom.

With seven seconds left in the first period, Ryan McDonagh sent a stretch pass to Nikita Kucherov which he caught and was able to score on. The Capitals have been very solid on the road in the postseason, but the Bolts have been a very good 34-14 here at home for the year, including 5-2 in the postseason. The Capitals kicked off the scoring at the 7:28 mark of the first period when Michal Kempny got his first goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Need more proof? The Caps are finally getting bounces to go their way. And even when the Lightning crept back into the game with two third-period goals, the Capitals didn't allow them to climb all the way back. The Capitals were relentless going after the puck and it paid off big time for them.

The NHL has not announced an official start date to the Stanley Cup Final, but a look at the conference final schedules allows an estimate of when the championship series is likely to start.


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