Playing in the conference finals for the first time in 20 years, the Capitals wasted no time in seizing the opportunity.
The Caps have now scored first in 10 of their 13 postseason games in 2018.
Tampa Bay Lightning star Nikita Kucherov scored with 7 seconds remaining in the first period; but the goal was immediately waved off as TB had too many men on the ice; sending the Caps to their first power play of the series.
Kuznetsov won the ensuing face-off and after a T.J. Oshie assist; Alex Ovechkin scored his first goal of the series with 5.3 seconds remaining in the first period to give Washington a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Washington outshot Tampa Bay 9-2 in the first period.
The Capitals continued to dominate in the second period with Jay Beagle scoring 2:40 into the period to give the Caps a 3-0 lead.
A Kucherov roughing penalty 6 minutes into the period sent Washington to their second power play of the night and Lars Eller capitalized. Eller’s power play goal was assisted by Oshie and Ovechkin; and made the score 4-0 before the halfway point of game one.
Vasilevskiy ended his night with 21 saves on 25 shots and a .840 save percentage.
The Washington Capitals domination ended in the final period as TB started to show some life.
An Alex Chiasson slashing penalty 3:23 into the final period gave the Lightning their second power play opportunity of the night. Tampa Bay captain, Steven Stamkos broke the ice for the home team and ended Braden Holtby‘s shutout bid just 23 seconds into the power play.
Ondrej Palat cut the Capitals lead to two with just under 7 minutes remaining intermission; awakening the Amalie Arena crowd and creeping doubt into the minds of Washington fans.
The Capitals defense fought off the mini-Lightning surge and didn’t allow a single shot in the final 3:53; securing the Washington 4-2 win.
Washington outshot Tampa Bay 32-21 Friday night.
In their first series of this postseason without home-ice, the Capitals win game one for their first time to steal the advantage from Tampa Bay in game one.
Game 2 is Sunday night at 8:00pm in Tampa Bay.