By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Boxed in and bumped around all game, Alex Ovechkin eventually figured out a way to make his NHL playoff debut a memorable one.
Held without a shot until late in the third period, the league's leading scorer stole the puck and netted the tiebreaking goal with 4 1/2 minutes remaining, leading the Washington Capitals to a 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first-round series Friday night.
The Flyers led 4-2 heading into the final period, thanks to two goals apiece by Danny Briere and Vaclav Prospal. But Ovechkin helped set up the first of two goals by defenseman Mike Green that lifted Washington into a tie.
And then Ovechkin, who set a NHL record for goals by a left wing this season with 65, put the finishing touch on the Capitals' first playoff game since 2003.
The 22-year-old Russian known as Alex the Great took the puck away from defenseman Lasse Kukkonen and slid it past goalie Martin Biron. As the red-clad crowd's "M-V-P!" chants rang through the arena, Ovechkin raced over and jumped into the glass to celebrate, then did a high-step along the boards before skating all the way down to the other end to exchange high-fives with his team's goalie, Cristobal Huet.
Game 2 is Sunday in Washington.
Rangers 2, Devils 1
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Henrik Lundqvist and another flukey goal have the Rangers halfway to the second round, and the Devils wondering what they have to do to beat their longtime rival.
Jaromir Jagr and Sean Avery scored 23 seconds apart early in the third period and Lundqvist made 26 saves in beating the Devils yet again in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
The win was the Rangers' ninth in 10 games against New Jersey this season, and it gives New York a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series that will shift across the river for Game 3 on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.
John Madden finally put the Devils on the board with 1:23 to play, deflecting Elias' slap shot between Lundqvist's pads with goalie Martin Brodeur on the bench for an extra skater. It was only the Devils' 11th goal in 10 games against the Swedish goalie this season.
Penguins 5, Senators 3
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Ryan Malone scored Pittsburgh's third power-play goal with only 1:02 remaining and the Penguins squandered a three-goal lead against Ottawa, then rallied for a sweep of their first two home games in the Eastern Conference series.
Petr Sykora scored two of the three goals set up by Evgeni Malkin as the Penguins -- who also blew a three-goal lead against Ottawa at home on Feb. 23 and lost 4-3 in overtime -- dodged what might have been a frantic, series-changing rally by Ottawa.
Malone added an empty-net goal with 6.5 seconds remaining -- the Penguins' 54th shot, easily their most in regulation in their playoff history.
Sergei Gonchar also scored and Sidney Crosby, held scoreless as Pittsburgh won 4-0 in Game 1, had four assists. Shean Donovan, Cory Stillman and Cody Bass scored for Ottawa. The series now shifts to Ottawa for Game 3 on Monday and Game 4 on Wednesday.