Box Score | War on Ice

Hi folks, it's your friendly Emergency Backup Recapper tonight. I got called into service about 8 minutes into the game and thought the start time was 8:00 pm eastern. What I'm saying is you should totally expect a thorough and precise recap of every single play.

1st period

Fortunately for me it seems very little happened in the first few minutes. Brooks Orpik got called for delay of game but not much came of the Leafs power play.

The Caps honoured Brooks Laich with this video tribute (warning for autoplay) and I came in just as he was acknowledging the crowd.

A few minutes later the Caps earned another delay of game (Jay Beagle this time). This time Peter Holland pinged the crossbar, one of the most frustrating sounds in the world when it's not followed by a goal horn. As the PP ended Morgan Reilly Spoonered the puck in (Spooner: to power the puck into the offensive zone from deep in the defensive zone while avoiding at least half the defenders on the ice) but couldn't get a shot off.
At this point in the game the commentators started trying to make me interested in the "World Cup of Hockey". They failed miserably.
Soshnikov and Komarov laid audible hits one after the other and Sosh drew a roughing penalty when TJ Oshie objected to physical contact from a rookie or something.The ensuing power play looked... uncoordinated. I bet Babcock wishes he had a week off with the new lineup to get everyone on the same page.

What had been a quiet period for the Caps (Leafs outshot them 6-8) suddenly erupted when Taylor Chorney, of all people, scored on Bernier.

It was his first goal in just over four years, because of course it was.

Almost immediately afterwards, Ovechkin scored from more or less exactly where Ovechkin always scores from. If the opposing team just planted someone right there every time they played the Caps.... okay fine, Ovi would still score a ton.

Frank Corrado was the first Leaf of the night to feel shame, so the Leafs ended the first period on the penalty kill.
As per usual, I had commentary muted between periods because NO ONE CARES. (This is probably a lie but I certainly don't and tonight it's my perspective that matters.)

2nd period

In my notes at intermission I wrote, "I demand someone's first NHL point" and lo and behold SOSHNIKOV! Nikita Soshnikov scored less than two minutes into the second period with a gorgeous goal, going bar down on Grubauer.

Kadri and Hunwick got the assists, giving Hunwick two points in his last three games. Things that make you go huh?

Zach Hyman drew a penalty call for tripping right afterwards - look at these kids doing all the right things! Now if only the power play units could score... As that power play expired Sohnikov accidentally kneed Grubauer in the face, which Niskanen took exception to. This led to a Caps PP with Niskanen and Soshnikov serving coincidental minors for roughing and Nylander doing his rookie duty, serving the extra two for interference.

This was Daniel Winnik's first game as a Cap and when the announcers mentioned Winnik on the ice my first reaction was "no, he was traded....oh right".

The Leafs did a lot of things right in this period - it's so odd to watch four or five of them on the screen at the same time, sticking close to their assignments and entering the defensive zone with or ahead of their targets instead of several steps behind. Mike Johnson sounded surprised the young guys are good - clearly didn't do much prep for this game.
There was a Garrett Sparks sighting on the bench late in the period - he looked like he was enjoying himself, whatever he was up to.

The period ended on weird note - after the whistle Soshnikov skated off with Niskanen and appeared to be having a conversation with him. Last I heard Sosh's English isn't great - does Matt Niskanen speak Russian?

3rd period

Leafs started the period on the penalty kill again. Kadri was in box for something he'd done after the whistle in the second.
The commentators mentioned that Ben Smith was leading all shooters in the game up to that point with 4 shots on net. This says something about the game but I'm not sure what.
Kadri scored early on but the goal was waved off immediately because Naz played it with a high stick and this is not baseball (see what you did, brigs?)

Zach Hyman had a good chance on Grabner's rebound (Hyman has apparently already learned Grabner will never score, smart kid).
Ovi got a puck to the face, which sounds worse than it was - not a shot just a chipped puck that went airborne and caught him in the jaw. No blood, no (more) missing teeth.
Colin Greening displayed what I have been told by a Sens fan is his only talent: tying the game up late. He scored at 11:44 in the period. At this point in the period, the Caps had yet to get a shot, which is just a lovely thing to point out.

Connor Carrick got the secondary assist, his first point as a Leaf and seventh career NHL point.
Much more importantly, our very own PPPer Phylliskessel got herself some screentime during the Sportsnet broadcast while applauding the goal!

Unfortunately Soshnikov earned himself yet another penalty, this one for boarding Karl Alzner, and Matt Niskanen took a whole 11 seconds to score on the power play.

This started a Capitals push and the Leafs didn't respond well. Play started to get scrambly and they allowed the Caps more space than they had been. Bernier suddenly saw a lot more work than he had all game.

Babock took the now familar route of pulling the goalie with about two minutes to go, which did get the kids' heads back in the game and they had a few chances. Sadly, for the first time in a while, it didn't work and the Leafs lost another close one. Soshnikov was named third star of the game, a nice finish to a memorable game for him.


  • Noticeable new guys this game were Hyman, Soshnikov and Smith. Both Nylander and Kapanen had a lot of TOI, including being on the ice for the final minutes, but neither did much that was particularly dramatic.
  • Hyman seems to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He also gets checked a lot but shakes them off pretty well for a kid listed at under 200lbs
  • As noted earlier, Smith really wanted a goal. He was bringing the puck into the offensive zone and shooting a lot. I hear that's good.
  • Corrado had the lowest TOI among the defence and he made at least one silly mistake I can think of, but he skates really well and did make a couple of good defensive plays.
  • One thing I noticed was a lot of quick decision making on the part of the kids. Nobody seemed surprised to get the puck on their stick and they almost always had a plan for how to get it on goal or to someone else.
  • It really is quite mesmerising to see the Leafs all on screen together, playing aggressive defence.
  • The Caps did not go easy on their former teammate. Brooks Laich got pasted a couple of times.
  • Ovechkin always shoots like he knows it's going in. I can't imagine where he gets that idea.

All in all, not a bad game at all. Hopefully they'll be able to pull out a win against the Wild tomorrow.

So, that's my first men's hockey recap. If you liked it you might want to check out my Toronto Furies recaps, featured elsewhere on this site!