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Recap: Caps 2, Leafs 1 (OT)

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The Leafs will head back to Toronto looking to keep their playoff run alive.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

First Period

The Leafs started this game out strong. Not only did they not go down two goals as soon as the game started, they pushed the play the other direction and gave the Capitals some trouble. Leo Komarov and Connor Brown teamed up for a great chance early on, but Braden Holtby made a great cross-crease save.

Admittedly, the Caps also had some good zone time, and hemmed the Leafs in on a couple of occasions, but generally speaking, the Leafs controlled more of the play.

Oh, and this:

Whoops. Hurry that pass up, Zaitsev. Gardiner had to get blown up like that because of your pass.

The Capitals started to take more control of the game as the period wore on,

On a Brian Boyle took a hooking penalty making up for a Frederik Andersen giveaway, but Andersen (sort of) made up for it on the PK with this terrific glove save:

I say “sort of” because no matter how amazing the save, it still doesn’t make up for two minutes where your team can’t attack.

Anyway, the Leafs were back on the PK shortly thereafter, when Nazem Kadri laid a low hip check on Alexander Ovechkin, making contact with his knee. Ovechkin stayed down on the ice and did not get up.

And here, the Caps finally struck, T.J. Oshie cashing in a rebound that came out off the post.

Second Period

The Leafs started the second period rather quietly, but were the next team to find the scoreboard, thanks to the Matthews line.

Matt Martin hit the post on a great shot shortly afterwards, and honestly, the fourth line looked pretty good, overall. As James Mirtle pointed out on Twitter, the Leafs’ fourth line has come a long way from the days of Colton Orr, Fraser McLaren, and Jared Smithson.

Ovechkin exacted a small measure of revenge against Kadri with a nice shot to the ribs:

The Kadri-Ovechkin feud continued to simmer throughout the second, and then found a new gear when Ovi gave Kadri a good little shot, when Kadri pulled what looked like an Olympic-level dive. Another camera angle, however, revealed that Matt Niskanen got a good chop in on Kadri, and so Kadri’s reaction does in fact appear genuine.

Third Period

The teams exchanged power plays to start the period, with neither able to do any damage. Frankly, that was better news for the Leafs than the Caps, as their power play looked awful – really awful.

The Caps proceeded to run all over the Leafs for the next five minutes before Tom Wilson high-sticked Martin Marincin, giving the Leafs a chance to get up off the mat. They managed a couple shots on the ensuing PP, but never came close to looking dangerous.

The Leafs and Caps traded chances through the period, with the Caps getting a few more. Through three periods, the shots were 26-25 Washington, and, of course, this game headed to overtime.

OT

Just a minute in, the Leafs misplayed a dump-in. Justin Williams was left alone in front, and I’m not sure if he was Rielly’s man or Matthews’ man, but neither of them tied anyone up.

Ho hum.

Let’s get ‘em in Toronto.

Notes on individual players:

  • Matt Hunwick had a poor start to the game. He was caught out of position on at least three rushes where he drifted aimlessly into the middle of the ice, and allowed dangerous rushes to flourish. He gets puck watching so often and is drawn to the wrong side or the middle of the ice where he shouldn’t be. He settled down as the game wore on.
  • Nikita Zaitsev has really struggled since coming into the series. He may still be nursing an injury, but many of the mistakes I’m seeing are mental, rather than physical. His passes are far too soft, his positioning looks borderline confused, and he throws the puck away without making a pass or trying to skate with it.
  • I think you could make a pretty good argument that William Nylander has been the best Leaf in this series. This game was no different.
  • Frederik Andersen gave the puck away at least four times in the first half of the game. It never cost the Leafs directly on the scoreboard, but it did force Boyle to take a penalty in the first. But hey, he made some absolutely MASSIVE saves, and kept the game tight, so it’s hard to be too critical.
  • Mitch Marner has disappeared in this series. The Caps have been very physical in general, but also have been getting away with a lot of obstruction, particularly on dump-ins. You can say it’s playoff hockey or whatever, but this affects guys like Marner more than most. Still, you’d like to see Marner fight through it.