Best inevitability: The Capitals failed to score on their first two power plays of the game, but half a minute after Philadelphia killed off Ryan White’s minor for charging late in the second period, Brandon Manning was whistled for delay of game. Nineteen seconds into the Capitals’ third man-advantage opportunity, John Carlson broke a scoreless tie with a bouncing shot that beat Steve Mason. Marcus Johansson and T.J. Oshie had the assists on Carlson’s seventh career postseason goal, the only one Braden Holtby and the Capitals would need.
Worst pressure: With great meaning comes great pressure and I’m inclined to agree with Sportsnet’s Sean McIndoe, who suggests the Capitals are facing the most pressure among the 16 teams competing for the Stanley Cup and the Flyers are facing the least.
Best relief: Pressure, shmessure. Jay Beagle’s wrist shot off an assist from Johansson with less than four minutes to play gave Washington a 2-0 lead and had the home crowd buzzing.
Best hitting: In case you had forgotten that these two teams don’t particularly like each another, White and Washington’s Nate Schmidt provided separate reminders by walloping Andre Burakovsky and Sam Gagner, respectively, less than two minutes into the game. Those hits were bookended by the mini-brawl at the final horn after Brayden Schenn leveled Karl Alzner. Good times.
Worst injury: Alex Ovechkin knocked Flyers center Sean Couturier out of the game with a clean hit in the second period. It was later reported that Couturier suffered an A/C sprain to his left shoulder and is done for the series.
Worst start: Playing a man down for six minutes in one period is no way to win a playoff game, but that’s exactly how the Capitals kicked off the 2016 postseason. It was stressful. John Carlson hooked Jakub Voracek in front of the net and Brooks Orpik was called for an illegal check to the head in the first eight minutes of the first period. Orpik smashed his stick against the glass after he was sent off for interference at the 14-minute 14-second mark, giving the Flyers their third power play of the night.
Best penalty kill: Holtby and the Capitals’ penalty kill, including Justin Williams, were up to the task in the first period and the defense buckled down after that. Philadelphia managed five shots on its three first-period power plays, but couldn’t crack Holtby with the man-advantage. The Flyers had eight shots in the second and third periods combined.
Best goalie: Mason was good, but Holtby was better, stopping all 19 shots he faced for his third career playoff shutout.
Best block: More accustomed to sending shots into the bodies of goalies and defenders when he isn’t finding the back of the net than blocking shots, Evgeny Kuznetsov rejected a golden scoring chance from Flyers rookie Shayne Gostisbehere in front of Holtby.
Worst offense: Spending so much time on the penalty kill made it difficult for the Capitals to get much going offensively. The first line of Ovechkin, Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, who combined for 96 goals during the regular season, didn’t manage a single shot in the first period.
Best domination: Whatever Barry Trotz said to his team after the first period worked, as the Capitals were more disciplined in the final two periods, dominated possession and finished with a 31-19 advantage in shots.
Worst penalties: The teams combined for 10 penalties, with Philadelphia going 0 for 4 on the power play and Washington going 1 for 6.
Best robbery: Mason snared Kuznetsov’s wrist shot less than seven minutes into the game.
Best friends: Tom Wilson and Wayne Simmonds, who train together during the offseason, fought late in the third period. Simmonds’ decision to engage Wilson after the Capitals forward boarded Andrew MacDonald cost the Flyers a power play opportunity and took Philadelphia’s leading goal-scorer off the ice for the final 6 minutes, 51 seconds of the game.
Best dad: Oshie, who made sure to say hello to his daughter Lyla before the game.
Best home-ice advantage: The Capitals, who were 29-8-4 at Verizon Center during the regular season, improved to 16-8 all-time in Game 1s at home.
Best stat: Teams that win Game 1 of a best-of-seven series go on to win the series 68.6 percent of the time.