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First night shocker

Upstart Rangers upset Capitals

Associated Press / April 16, 2009
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With the score tied in the third period, the New York Rangers did what they do best - kill off a power play. Then Markus Naslund popped out of the penalty box and set up the winning goal.

Naslund fed Brandon Dubinsky, who made a move that left Jeff Schultz sprawled on the ice. Dubinsky then beat goalie Jose Theodore inside the near post with 8:17 remaining, lifting the Rangers to a 4-3 victory over the Capitals in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference series last night in Washington.

Scott Gomez had a goal and two assists, Nik Antropov and Naslund each had a goal and an assist, and Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves to help the seventh-seeded Rangers take the early series momentum against the second-seeded Capitals.

Tomas Fleischmann, Viktor Kozlov, and Alexander Semin scored the goals, and Alexander Ovechkin had a pair of assists for the Capitals, who will try to pull even when they host Game 2 Saturday. Theodore made 17 saves for Washington.

The Rangers, the NHL's best penalty killers during the regular season, uncharacteristically allowed two power-play goals - the first time in 30 games they've allowed more than one - but they shut the Capitals down when it mattered.

While much of the focus was on the Capitals' power play vs. the Rangers' penalty kill, it was New York's supposedly anemic man-advantage unit - ranked 29th in the league - that swung the momentum in the second period.

Antropov and Naslund scored power-play goals on back-to-back shots to give New York a 3-1 lead. The Capitals rallied to tie when Kozlov netted late in the second and Semin on a power-play early in the third.

The Capitals dominated a first period that ended scoreless. They outshot the Rangers, 14-4, and Ovechkin was active with six shots and six hits.

Among the other highlights: Rangers bad boy Sean Avery, trying his best to agitate the Capitals, drew a holding penalty for stuffing his glove in John Erskine's face.

Penguins 4, Flyers 1 - Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin collected a goal and an assist each and the superstar duo also shut down Philadelphia's fleet of scorers to post the first-round victory at Pittsburgh.

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, idle for long stretches in the first two periods as his teammates controlled play at the other end, made 26 saves as the Penguins won their fourth consecutive conference playoff series opener.

Devils 4, Hurricanes 1 - Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner each had a goal and an assist and New Jersey overcame a late-season swoon with a dominating opening-game victory over visiting Carolina.

Defenseman Mike Mottau scored a rare goal late in the first period, Parise and Patrik Elias tallied in the second period, and Langenbrunner added one in the third as New Jersey seemed to answer questions that surrounded it after a late six-game losing streak.

Canucks 2, Blues 1 - Daniel Sedin had a goal and an assist, and Roberto Luongo made 25 saves to lead host Vancouver in its playoff opener.

Sami Salo added a power-play goal for the Canucks, 14-1-1 at home since the start of February. Game 2 of the Western Conference series is tomorrow night at GM Place.

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