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Maple Leafs win it in the third over the Capitals

Rasmus Sandin with the big goal. Justin Holl with a very good game.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Washington Capitals Photo by John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images

Time for a bounce-back game, Leafs. Try to score at least 12 this time, no being lazy.

First Period

Washington starts with Tom Wilson on the top line up against the Matthews line. You be careful, Mr Bunting, no getting hurt for honour.

Okay, never mind on that, I guess. Michael Bunting is going for more goals.

1-0 Leafs

This goal came after a period where the Leafs seemed confused about how to get through the neutral zone, so hopefully that was a fleeting problem.

Ilya Mikheyev bails out Ilya Lyubushkin, who has a broken stick, and gets a double-double try on breakaway scoring. Ilya Samsonov says no way both times.

We have a possible new netminder for the Leafs:

Wow. Evgeny Kuznetsov takes an offensive zone penalty for a trip on Lyubushkin. That makes you popular on the bench. Leafs to the PP.

Power play already looks much better than last game. The Capitals kill it off very easily, however.

The Leafs, who have struggled with the zone entry, make a beautiful series of passes to gain the zone. (William Nylander is on the ice, duh.) and then they... pass it to Justin Holl who manages to make all the joy just leak out of the moment with a flubbed shot.

Washington gets the Leafs (second line, of course) hemmed in and get the cycle going with a lot of movement in ways the Leafs really haven’t so far. The result is fairly predictable:

Tie Game

The Leafs third line gets something going, but not even a timely substitution of Matthews and Marner onto the ice gets a goal, though.

Bunting with a nice rush chance makes me wonder why rush chances in response to a stifling neutral zone team aren’t more of a Leafs’ tactic.

Ah, that has to feel good. JT works hard behind the net to get a perfect pass out to Nylander.

2-1 Leafs

Samsonov doesn’t look like a genius on that one.

The Matthews line gets a cycle going too (maybe they’ve fixed the chain?) and a jam play with Holl at the net ends up in a goal. Nice way to redeem yourself, Justin.

3-1 Leafs

That’s the first period! Only four goals.

Thoughts

  • By the end of that period, the game was very even everywhere but the scoreboard.
  • Maple Leafs with a shade more xG, most of that coming in the second half.

Second Period

Vitek Vanacek in for the Capitals.

Toronto almost instantly gets a penalty as Bunting goes off for holding.

Timothy Liljegren and Morgan Rielly go off on a shorty rush, and that is not the first time I’ve seen two Leafs defenders do that.

Mikheyev really tough on the forecheck, and I’ve really enjoyed his play the last 5 or 6 games. I think he’s developing some minor additions to his speed game.

PIerre Engvall takes a tripping call, so it’s PK time again. (Cheeseball call)

Mrázek comes way out to say no, sir to Ovechkin.

The Captials use a lot of movement and passing to pull the Leafs’ PK out of shape, and Tom Wilson gets a perfect tip pass.

3-2 Leafs

Long discussion during the TV timeout about the last goal and if the Leafs really “had control” of the puck at one point.

Lars Eller lays a late hit on Kerfoot who is some annoyed. Leafs to the PP.

The first unit proves how good the Capitals’ PK is, not much else. The second unit also can’t get set up. That was a dud, and the Leafs could use an offensive shift that sparkles a little here.

Instead Bunting takes another penalty and wants to claim Eller dives. Which he may have done, but Bunting is never getting that call from a ref. By the time you get fined for diving, they all hate you. That’s just the price of doing business.

Leafs kill the penalty well, and there’s not enough time to do much before it’s time for another intermission.

Thoughts

  • A low event 5on5 period that was almost totally level again.
  • The Caps had the PP surplus, and that can’t continue, or this won’t end well.

Third Period

Kuznetsov takes a penalty on Liljegren very early, and Liljegren looks hurt-ish.

Oh good. This is a lot of fun when the Leafs do it, it’s negative 1 million fun when Tom Wilson does it. Shorty for the tie game:

Three All

Eller, who has games like this, takes another penalty, and the Leafs could do with a goal here. Obviously. They’re riding some offensive momentum, if you believe in that.

I like the Caps’ PK. That’s all I can say about the Leafs PP tonight.

NRob with a great play at the line — this is genuinely a highlight in this period.

Mrázek with a huge save.

Leafs with an intense cycle flurry, and you love to see it. This period has been all Leafs.

“Hudson Bay Rules” says Cuthbert as Lyubushkin lays out T.J. Oshie, and of course, a big scrum ensues.

Mitch Marner loves some 4on4, so great choice, ref.

JT with a post. Dammit. He and Nylander are making the m—— scores!!!! MY BOY SANDIN.

4-3 Leafs

JT, Nylander, Holl — was great here and Sandin, all on fire.

The Caps nearly tie it up right away, and this game is suddenly wild and wooly.

Engvall adds an ENG to make it 5-3 Leafs.

Big, hard-working finish from the Leafs in this one.

Thoughts

Thanks to Omar for the great gifs as always.

Next game is the Sabres on Wednesday.