Capitals cruise past Lightning to win series opener

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Alex Ovechkin and Jay Beagle scored in a three-minute span straddling the first and second periods as the Washington Capitals manhandled the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 in the opening game of the Eastern Conference finals.

The Capitals seized control of Friday's contest on a bizarre sequence that included a Tampa goal waived off for a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.

Just two seconds later, the Capitals scored on the powerplay.

So instead of the game being tied 1-1 at that point, 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.

Game two of the best-of-seven series is Sunday in Tampa.

Czech defenceman Michal Kempny, with the first of the game and his first of the postseason, and Lars Eller, of Denmark, also scored for Washington, who are in their first NHL semi-final series in two decades.

The Lightning are in the Conference final for the third time in four years but it didn't look like it as they pulled starting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy at the end of the second period with the score 4-0.

Steven Stamkos, on the power play, and Ondrej Palat scored goals in the third period for the Lightning who had an easier time getting to this stage of the playoffs by eliminating Boston and New Jersey in just five games each.

Goaltender Braden Holtby made 19 stops for Washington, facing a meagre two shots in the first period from the lacklustre Lightning team.