Capitals begin play-offs with a win

The Washington Capitals began the Stanley Cup play-offs with a 2-0 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.

The Capitals are aiming to become just the second side in eight years to lift the cup after topping the NHL’s regular season standings.

And they got off to the perfect start as goals from John Carlsson and Jay Beagle secured victory against the Flyers, with goaltender Braden Holtby recording 19 saves for his third play-off shutout.

The Los Angeles Kings, champions in 2014, began with a topsy-turvy 4-3 home defeat to the San Jose Sharks.

Jake Muzzin and Joe Pavelski traded goals in the first period, before Brent Burns gave the Sharks the lead for the first time.

The Kings turned the game on its head with Jeff Carter’s powerplay goal followed by a shorthanded effort from Trevor Lewis.

But Tomas Hertl levelled things up for San Jose before Pavelski’s goal 17 seconds into the third clinched victory for the visitors.

The New York Islanders upset Atlantic Division winners Florida Panthers with a 5-4 victory at BB&T Center.

The Islanders were outshot 46-26 and trailed on three separate occasions but prevailed to take a 1-0 lead.

Teddy Purcell, Jussi Jokinen and Reilly Smith all scored for the Panthers, but each one was cancelled out by Brock Nelson, Frans Nielsen and John Tavares respectively.

Kyle Okposo gave New York the lead for the first time 2.33 into the final period and Ryan Strome scored the game winner before Smith pulled one back.

Dallas Stars, who topped the Central Division, eased past the Minnesota Wild 4-0 in their opener, with Kari Lehtonen making 22 saves.

Radek Faksa and Jason Spezza both scored in the second period before a powerplay effort from Patrick Eaves and Jamie Benn’s empty-netter rounded off a dominant display.