Hello Maple Leafs fans! It’s game four of the Maple Leafs vs Washington Capitals first round playoff series. My name is elseldo and I’ll be your recapper. With me tonight is our unpaid intern Lil’ Seldo. [Kid waves] He hasn’t figured out blogging yet.
Anyway, we’ll be updating this recap as we watch the game tonight. It’s pretty stressful, so I thought we’d make sure to take a few moments and watch the game through the eyes of a child.
The first period begins with some hockey. That is to say nothing much exciting happens until the 17:00 mark when TJ Oshie skates around the Leafs net after a faceoff to Frederik Andersen’s right. He gets a pass and sends the puck right into the open net. 1-0 Capitals.
“Psh, it’s fine. The Caps blew a 3-1 lead last time. No problem.”
The replay shows some possible goaltender interference, but Mike Babcock doesn’t challenge the goal.
A few seconds later Kuznetsov gets a break away but is denied by Andersen.
One minute after the Capitals scored, Tyler Bozak is called for high sticking Lars Eller, and send the Capitals to their first power play of the game.
34 seconds into the power play, Alexander Ovechkin sends a 103 mile per hour slap shot at Andersen from the top of the right face off circle, and scores.
Less than two minutes later, the Maple Leafs cut the lead in half when not actually a Selke nominee Zach Hyman scores off a pass from Mathews and Nylander to make it 2-1.
We head into a commercial break, where I realize I have turned the heat up too high and burn the hell out of some grilled cheese sandwiches. I’m on a roll tonight as Dad.
Lil’s Seldo has an....interesting thought for tonight.
“It would be funny if the Leafs lost this game because the Habs lost their fourth game. Habs lose game one and so did the Leafs. So they both win one lose two and win one.”
I’ve yet to find the funny part.
The commercial break ends, and as I’m scraping together something else for dinner I hear screaming from the living room:
I run to see and...it’s a replay of Hyman’s goal.
Play resumes and there’s a big hit by the Leafs bench that has LS up and on his feet.
“Oh my goodness, someone almost got thrown into the Leafs bench”
Halfway through the period, Matthews steals pass up the centre takes it to caps end, no goal though.
Graphic: 21 goalies to play with the Leafs since the lost season. Holy crap.
8:51 into the period and GCL craps out for the first time tonight. It gave me the spinning circle 3 times last game, so we’ll see if we can break that record tonight.
6:32 - GOAL! WHAT? NO? WHAT? GOAL?! No. Wlson dives into caps net to stop the puck from dribbling through Holtby’s legs. I hate Tom Wilson, but I’ll hate him even more soon.
After saving the game and preventing the tie, Tom Wilson joins the other Caps forwards in a rush into the Leafs end.
Wilson ends up deflecting a Lars Eller shot into the Leafs net to make it 3-1.
“I hate Tom Wilson”
Me too kid.
The next few minutes the play goes back and forth with the Capitals holding the Leafs back more and more as time goes by.
4:15 - GCL craps out again.
When I get my connection back, there’s a pile up and Alexander Burakovsky goes down and Tom Wilson checks Morgan Rielly from behind and Rielly ends up catching Burakovsky’s skate and cuts him self. As he’s slow to get up (obviously) Burakovsky and Wilson get a two on one and Wilson scores his second of the game and third of this series.
“You’re bad at typing (proceeds to pronounce every spelling mistake in my notes)”
After the Capitals goal Nate Schmidt is called for sending the puck over the glass. I suddenly don’t hate this penalty.
There’s some real nice passing going on in the Maple Leafs power play, but the Capitals kill it off.
At this point I’m a bit distracted because for the final minute of the period there’s a very loud and passionate rant about mini-sticks games at school.
We break to intermission and we have my favourite hockey conversation again.
“Who’s this guy?”
[Points to old clip of Don Cherry on TV]
“Him. He looks like Donald Trump”
Close buddy, close.
After one period the Caps lead 4-1. Shots are 15-6. Shot attempts are 29-16.
CBC steals Annie and Arvind’s beard update for an intermission segment and does it badly.
In the first few minutes of the period there’s icing and offside but the Capitals are keeping the Leafs at bay. Whenever the Caps come out of their end they play four across the ice.
Connor Brown chases a loose puck down the ice and gets the Leafs first real chance at 15:45. Twenty seconds Nicklas Backstrom gets called for holding.
The Leafs are passing well in the Capitals end on the power play. Pass, pass, pass, Kadri screens Holtby and James van Riemsdyk scores!
Halfway through the period. Connor Bown again gets out of the Leafs end but is unable to put it past Holtby. At this point the shots are 21-9 for Washington. The Leafs have managed just three shots in the first half of the period.
One thing they’re doing well during the playoffs is adding little timers to the top. LS keeps pointing them out. “It’s been 6 minutes since the last whistle!” These things I miss because I don’t care and am old and cynical, but he notices because the playoffs are shiny and new for him.
Something else I’ve never noticed? The camera flashes on screen. Now I can't unsee them. Thanks kid.
Nearer to the end of the period, the Leafs are getting more chances. Matthews with a backhand, Kapanen with a break away, but nothing gets past Holtby.
5:50 - GCL craps out
5:55 - GCL craps out again
The play is in the Leafs zone, and as they leave the trailing Washington player knocks over Andersen and there’s no call.
“Hockey is a rough game. People get injured a lot. So if you’re ready to get injured, go to the NHL.”
Kid is wise.
Graphic: Maple Leafs have 3 wins in last 61 games when trailing after 2 periods.
CBC: Super supportive
With five seconds left in the period, Lars Eller is called for closing his hand on the puck. Two minutes for him. Two seconds later Brooks Orpik is called for slashing when he breaks Mitchell Marners stick in half.
The third period begins with 1:57 of five on three power play, but despite some flurry of shots there’s no scoring with the two man advantage.
Gardiner is holding the power play blue line well, but it was to no avail.
The Maple Leafs are plahying much better this period, with the Capitals focusing more on defense, the Leafs are getting more chances.
Graphic: Capitals haven’t had a shot in 8 minutes at 16:00 mark of the third period.
“Don’t worry, they’re going to score two to go to overtime”
Graphic: The Capitals have won their last 2 first round series when down 2-1 to start.
At 11:49 of the third, the Capitals think they’ve scored, but it’s immediately called for goaltender interference and waved off. Trotz challenges the call, but it’s upheld. No goal.
A few minutes later, Auston Matthews makes it 4-3 when he gets a rebound into an open net.
After the Leafs turnover the puck, TJ Oshie races at Andersen and scores to make it 5-3.
Guess what Game Centre Live does? Yep. Craps out.
When we get to the final minute of the game, the Maple Leafs pull Frederik Andersen. The Capitals keep icing the puck, trying for that empty net goal. The Leafs get possession and at 25 seconds, Tyler Bozak puts the puck past Holtby to bring them within one.
There’s a challenge one this goal as well, but it’s held up. Leafs are within one.
The face off is at centre, and the Leafs get into the Capitals end, but the puck is freed and the Leafs can’t recover in time.
The game ends 5-4 for the Washington Capitals.
Not every game was going to be a world beater for the Leafs, and this one was more of a reflection of what most people expected heading into this series. We’re down to a best of three at this point. Two games in Washington. The next loss pushes a team to the brink of elimination.
The Maple Leafs need to remember what they did in games two and three to stay alive.
Go Leafs Go.
Game Five will be played Friday night in Washington. Maple Leaf Square will be open. See you there.