The Capitals and Maple Leafs faced off against one another for the first time in Stanley Cup Playoff history to begin their quarterfinal series. Toronto jumped ahead of their hosts early but Washington would even the score and force overtime. And only five minutes into the extra frame Tom Wilson buried his first career playoff goal (a beauty) to down his hometown team in Game One.
First up, Thursday night’s Plus/Minus.
- Plus: Justin Williams came to play tonight. With this game marking the start of Williams’ tenth NHL postseason he was everything Washington could’ve asked for tonight.
- Minus: The Capitals allowed the young Maple Leafs to complete dominate the first ten minutes of play and spot themselves a two goal lead to defend. Washington looked lackluster early.
Nine more notes on the game:
- Mitch Marner got the Maple Leafs on the scoreboard early, tallying the game’s first goal 95 seconds into the opening period. James Van Riemsdyk passed the puck off the goal and into the slot where Marner beat Brooks Orpik and Lars Eller to it and deposited the puck.
- Barely ten minutes later Jake Gardiner took a shot that deflected into the net off of T.J. Oshie’s stick but referee Gord Dwyer immediately disallowed it. Toronto head coach Mike Babcock challenged the the interference with Braden Holtby, however, and he was successful. The call on the ice was (rightly) reversed and the visitors were comfortably ahead by two less than ten minutes into the contest.
- Immediately afterward Washington was afforded a ninety second two-man advantage but they failed to capitalize. Luckily though, as Brian Boyle was exiting the penalty box, Oshie and Williams connected in the slot, the latter scoring to cut Toronto’s lead in half.
- And with sixteen minutes of play elapsed in the second period Williams crashed the net and poked home a loose puck to tie the game. A low and hard shot from Matt Niskanen was stopped by Frederik Anderson but the goaltender couldn’t locate the rebound. While scrambling in the crease Anderson exposed the puck under his left leg pad and the Capitals’ veteran forward made no mistake stashing it.
- Williams tallied two goals in a playoff game for the fourth time in his career and the veteran forward powered Washington’s offense (with Kevin Shattenkirk’s help) through regulation.
- Both teams exchanged chances in the third period, notably Marner and Johansson from their respective slots, but Holtby and Anderson kept the game tied with timely stops.
- With time evaporating in the final frame Alex Ovechkin tried his best to fire home a buzzer beater but another strong glovehand save from Anderson forced the game to extra time.
- The Capitals totaled 38 shots against Anderson through sixty minutes (three more than the visitors) and Toronto notched 17 shot blocks in that same span. Not too bad for a Washington team that began the contest completely on their heels.
- And in overtime Wilson buried the winner with a wicked, beautiful wrist shot over Anderson glovehand that blew the roof off of the Verizon Center.