Jimmy Vesey and Artemi Panarin lead Rangers to 4-1 win over Capitals in Game 1

NEW YORK (AP) — Matt Rempe helped the New York Rangers get their postseason off to a strong start.

Rempe and Artemi Panarin scored 33 seconds apart in the second period, and the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Rangers beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 on Sunday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

Jimmy Vesey had a goal and an assist, Chris Kreider also scored, Barclay Goodrow had two assists for the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin finished with 20 saves.

“It’s obviously good to get that first one,” said New York’s Peter Laviolette, who became the first coach in NHL history to lead six different teams to the Stanley Cup playoffs. “There’s things we could have done better. … You need to win one at a time, so for that the result was good.”

The Rangers, seeking their first championship in 30 years, won their third straight and 11th in the last 14 games.

Martin Fehervary scored and Charlie Lindgren stopped 27 shots for the Capitals, who had won three straight and four of their last five games to earn the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.

“We’ve got to do a way better job offensively,” Capitals coach Spencer Carbery said. “It’s no secret. We struggled all year but we’ve got to find ways to create more on the interior. We’ve got to skate out of pressure, we’ve got to keep pucks off the yellow. We continually ran pucks around.”

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night.

Leading 3-1 after two periods, the Rangers outshot the Capitals 15-6 in the third.

Kreider made it 4-1 as he put a backhander past Lindgren on a breakaway from the right side with 3:43 left in the third period. It was his 41st postseason goal, extending his franchise record.

The Rangers bottled up Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, who had no shots on goal. He was held without a shot only five times in 79 games during the season.

“We all understand it’s the playoffs,” Ovechkin said. “Forget about this one and move forward.”

After a scoreless first period in which the teams combined for 11 shots on goal, there were four goals in the second period.

Rempe got the Rangers on the scoreboard first, sweeping in the puck from the left side off a deflection across the front of the net by Vesey at 4:17.

Rempe, the 21-year-old rookie who has garnered a lot of attention for his physical play and fights, drew chants of “Rem-pe! Rem-pe!” from the crowd.

“That was a big goal to put energy in the building, maybe because it was him, too, put a little more extra juice in the building,” Laviolette said. “And then be able to get another one right after that. That was a turning point in the game.”

Panarin, who had a career-high 49 goals during the regular season, made it 2-0 just 33 seconds later at 4:50 as he fired a shot past Lindgren from the right circle. Alexis Lafreniere knocked defenseman Vincent Iorio off the puck and shoulder-first into the boards. Lafreniere then send the puck to Trocheck, who sent across to Panarin for the goal.

Iorio went to the dressing room after the play and did not return. Carbery did not have an update on his status.

“I don’t think it was that, it was close, it was borderline,” he said of the hit. “I feel bad for him because he put himself in a tough spot. Probably needs to move the puck quicker there and get it out of his hands. Then he hangs on to it, wobbles it.”

Vesey made it 3-0 as he got the puck off a draw in the right circle and fired it past Lindgren at 6:23. Rempe in front knocked down Beck Malenstyn to give Vesey some space for his shot.

“(Rempe) scoring sent the fans crazy, and we scored two more goals in the next few minutes,” Vesey said. “He definitely gets the crowd into the game and as the team with home-ice advantage, you’re going to try to feed off that energy in the crowd.”

Fehervary deflected a shot by Tom Wilson off his foot and past Shesterkin to get the Capitals on the scoreboard at 7:31.

Rempe was whistled for charging to give the Capitals a power play 2:07 into the game. The Capitals managed just one shot on goal during the advantage and had several shots blocked. They also went a 14:09 stretch in the period without a shot on goal as the Rangers had an 11-7 advantage.

The Rangers improved to 21-9 in the openers of a seven-game series at home.

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

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