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Rangers upset Capitals, Penguins whip Flyers

THE New York Rangers opened the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 4-3 upset win over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday and the Pittsburgh Penguins thrashed the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1.

NHL scoring champion Evgeni Malkin and Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby each had a goal and an assist to help power the Penguins to a 1-0 lead in their Eastern conference quarterfinal.

Alexander Ovechkin, the NHL's top goal scorer, rifled 13 shots at Henrik Lundqvist but could not beat the New York netminder as the seventh seeded Rangers hung on to steal a victory on Brandon Dubinsky's third period goal.

Martin Brodeur, the NHL goaltender with the most career wins, made 18 saves to notch his 96th post-season victory as the New Jersey Devils quieted the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1.

Ray Whitney was the only Hurricane to put a puck behind Brodeur, his goal midway through the final period denying the New Jersey netminder his 23rd playoff shutout.

In the night's only Western Conference clash, Roberto Luongo won a goaltending duel over Chris Mason making 25 saves as the Vancouver Canucks cooled off the NHL's hottest team edging the St Louis Blues 2-1.

Daniel Sedin in the first period and Sami Salo with a powerplay tally in the second provided the Vancouver goals beating Mason, who was equally outstanding in the St Louis net facing 31 shots.

In Washington, the second-seeded Capitals, looking for their first post-season series victory since reaching the Stanley Cup finals in 1998, stormed back from a 3-1 deficit to level the score early in the third period and ignite the home crowd.

But the Capitals could not complete the rally, Dubinsky collecting the winning goal with eight minutes remaining when he eluded defenseman Jeff Schultz and snapped a high 25-foot wrist shot past netminder Jose Theodore.

In a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference final, the Penguins jumped out to a 4-0 third period lead on goals from Crosby, Malkin, Tyler Kennedy and Mark Eaton then battled through a chippy third period that ended in a flurry of penalties and skirmishes.

"Sometimes it goes like that, both teams want to win and want to be disciplined but as the game went on I think it got more physical and ended up a typical playoff game," said Crosby.


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