Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 4/28/12

NEW YORK -- In goaltender Braden Holtby, the Washington Capitals have a rookie to thank for their presence in the Eastern Conference semifinals. In forward Chris Kreider, the New York Rangers have a rookie to thank for their advantage in the series.

Playing in just his sixth professional game, Kreider scored a goal and assisted on another, lifting the Rangers to a 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals in the opening game of the series Saturday.

The Capitals gave the Rangers difficulty, limiting them to just 14 shots on goal, but goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 17 saves on 18 shots to backstop the Blueshirts to their second win in less than 48 hours.

The Rangers held the Capitals to one shot on goal through the first 12 minutes, but Washington ended the scoreless first period with a 6-4 shots advantage, not counting a Nicklas Backstrom shot that rang off the goalpost behind Lundqvist.

The Rangers got on the board 12:28 into the second period on the first goal of the playoffs by Artem Anisimov, who took a pass behind the net and curled in front to put the puck between Holtby's legs for the opening goal.

The Capitals equalized with 5.1 seconds remaining in the middle frame on the second goal of the playoffs by Jason Chimera. After a late flurry of opportunities for the Rangers, the Capitals made a late rush the other way, which culminated in Brooks Laich finding Chimera streaking toward the net and Chimera beating Lundqvist low.

The Rangers retook the lead seven minutes into the third on the second goal of the playoffs for Kreider. Taking the ice just three weeks removed from winning his second NCAA championship with Boston College, Kreider took a pass from Derek Stepan in open ice, skated into the Washington zone and unloaded a slapshot from just behind the left-wing faceoff circle that whizzed past Holtby and into the net.

It was the second winning goal for Kreider in three games. He also scored the game-winner in the Rangers' 3-2 win in Ottawa in the sixth game of the conference quarterfinals.

The Blueshirts doubled their advantage 90 seconds later on the third goal of the playoffs by Brad Richards. The former Conn Smythe winner took a pass from Kreider along the left-wing boards and skated toward Holtby along the goal line, finally tucking the puck between Holtby's pads.

The Capitals turned up the pressure in the final minutes, including more than two minutes with Holtby pulled for the extra skater, but the Rangers held strong to preserve the victory.

Game 2 will be played Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

NOTES: The Rangers were without forward Brandon Dubinsky, who was injured in the third period of Thursday night's series-clinching win over the Senators. Dubinsky had one point in the first round, an assist on DanGirardi's winning goal. . . . Steve Eminger, a former first-round pick of the Capitals who played in the organization until 2007-08, skated for the Rangers as a seventh defenseman. It was his first action of the playoffs. . . . Stephane Matteau, whose famous overtime goal against the New Jersey Devils sent the Rangers on to the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, was in attendance Saturday, as were New York Jets defensive tackle Sione Pouha and tennis great John McEnroe.

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