WASHINGTON — Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin combined to score three goals on the first eight shots, and the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals survived a surge from Andrei Svechnikov and the Carolina Hurricanes to win Game 1 of their first-round series 4-2 on Thursday night.

Backstrom scored twice and Ovechkin scored on the power play to fire up a raucous sellout crowd in the first playoff game in Washington since celebrating the franchise’s first title in June. It looked like the Capitals would roll toward a statement victory against an opponent lacking playoff experience, but the pesky Hurricanes turned up the heat.

Mrazek bounced back from a rough start to make four huge saves early in the third period, while Svechnikov scored twice in his playoff debut to put some fear into the Capitals, who were outshot 29-18 and outplayed for long stretches. Braden Holtby made 27 saves, and the penalty kill came up big on two late Carolina power plays to allow Washington to take a 1-0 series lead.

Capitals players had plenty of recent lessons to know that a multigoal lead isn’t safe this time of year. They led Columbus 2-0 in each of the first two games of last year’s playoffs before losing 4-3 and 5-4, and watched the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning blow a 3-0 lead to those same Blue Jackets and lose in Game 1 of that series Wednesday night.

It almost happened in this one. Well after the “Back-to-back!” chants faded into nervous silence, Mrazek stopped Nic Dowd and Carl Hagelin on breakaways and turned aside Brett Connolly and Lars Eller on rapid-fire chances early in the third before Svechnikov got the Hurricanes on the board. Mrazek finished with 14 saves.

Thanks to the goals by Backstrom and Ovechkin and defenseman John Carlson tying an NHL playoff record with three assists in one period, the Capitals built a large enough lead to survive an onslaught from the Hurricanes. Eller sealed it with an empty-netter with 36.6 seconds left.

THE TAMPA BAY Lightning faced little adversity in the regular season on the way to a record-tying 62 wins and the most points in a season in 23 years.

That all changed as fast as the Lightning squandered a three-goal lead before losing 4-3 to the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of their first-round series Wednesday night. Now a team that lost consecutive games just twice all season must rebound in Game 2 at home Friday night or be in danger of a quick playoff exit following a spectacular run all season.

Coach Jon Cooper acknowledges that blowing the big lead has put “pressure” on his team heading into Game 2.

“I actually thought our biggest foe last night was us,” Cooper said Thursday. “Columbus had no quit in them and good on them. Our biggest obstacle was us. We’ll just see how our response is tomorrow. If we’re going to go on past history, we’ve usually responded pretty well.”

The Blue Jackets were the sixth NHL team to comeback from being down at least three goals to beat a No. 1 seed in a postseason game.