Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin didn't disappoint in his NHL playoff debut, scoring the winning goal with 4:32 left in the third period to give his team a 5-4 comeback win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Ovechkin, the league's top scorer this season, also added an assist. Defenceman Mike Green scored twice in the third period to help the Capitals overturn a 4-2 Philadelphia lead, with David Steckel and Donald Brashear also scoring.
"They held him in check pretty good," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said of Ovechkin, "but he's one of the guys that needs one chance."
"We did a good job of containing him," Philadelphia's Scottie Upshall said, "for the first 45 minutes."
Ovechkin, Green and Steckel were among 12 Capitals making their post-season debuts. Goaltender Cristobal Huet made 18 saves for the win.
Vinny Prospal and Daniel Briere each scored two goals and an assist for Philadelphia, which mustered only three shots in the third period. Veteran goalie Martin Biron, making his playoff debut after over a decade in the league, made 22 saves.
Matt Bradley added two assists for the winners.
Philadelphia's Patrick Thoresen was sent to a hospital after taking a shot to the groin in the third period.
"He's going to the hospital to get an ultrasound done on his testicles. It's bad enough they may have to remove one," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. "Right now, we're not sure how serious it is, but there's a chance he may need surgery."
Thoresen writhed in pain on ice, but play continued, with Green scoring a power-play goal to make the score 4-4.
"Obviously, I'd have liked to see a whistle," Flyers coach John Stevens said.
Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final takes place Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Center in Washington.
The game was tied after the first.
Veteran enforcer Brashear picked up a loose puck and put it in a half-empty net to open the scoring at 3:16, just two seconds after a Philadelphia penalty expired.
Almost exactly five minutes later, Scott Hartnell screened Huet, allowing Prospal's shot to sneak through.
Just over four minutes into the second, Washington regained the lead when Bradley made a backhanded pass from behind the Philadelphia net to Steckel, who fired it past Biron.
Flyers notch 2 in 33 seconds
The Flyers stunned the Capitals with a pair of goals in 33 seconds midway through the second. Briere stepped out of the penalty box and took pass from Mike Knuble in stride, firing a shot from the right wing behind Huet.
Prospal followed up with a wrist shot from the slot between Huet's pads.
Philadelphia took a two-goal lead on Briere's second late in the period, courtesy of a cross-ice pass from Mike Richards.
Green went to work in the third, taking a no-look pass from Sergei Fedorov for a goal at the 1:50 mark and then wiring a slapshot on the power play just over four minutes later.
Huet was doing his part for Washington, stopping Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnell on chances.
Ovechkin got his first career playoff point on Green's second goal and then scored an amazing goal, stripping both Jaroslav Modry and Lasse Kukkonen of the puck before firing a shot over Biron.
"A pretty veteran move," said teammate Sergei Fedorov.
Sami Kapanen was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career with Philadelphia. Ryan Parent took the spot of Randy Jones, who is suffering from the flu.
For Washington, Steve Eminger took a spot on the blue-line for injured Jeff Schultz.