It was a heart-palpitating contest throughout, featuring a two-goal advantage for Washington and a stout first 30 minutes - then followed by a pair of blown two-goal leads that sent their third straight game to start these Stanley Cup playoffs into overtime. Toronto came through on the power play in overtime, and took a 2-1 series lead with a 4-3 win at Air Canada Centre.
Here's Monday night's Plus/Minus:
- Plus: Nate Schmidt had an assist and was plus-2 in his 2017 playoff debut, replacing an injured Karl Alzner.
- Minus: Kevin Shattenkirk certainly didn’t appear to be the same player he was the Caps’ last visit to Toronto 13 days ago. He missed a golden, wide-open opportunity during a 5-on-3 power play midway through the second, was one of several Capitals to collapse below the goal line on the tying Toronto goal, and committed a brutal delay of game penalty in the third that further put the Capitals on their heels.
And, there’s this...
Front angle on Braden Holtby's jailbreak poke check on Mitch Marner pic.twitter.com/Ewhr5fGPxl— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) April 18, 2017
Ten notes from tonight’s contest:
- Washington came out with their hair on fire, applying consistent pressure in the Toronto zone and creating quality chances early.
- Backstrom’s opening salvo came from a picture-perfect pass from Schmidt, the kind that the team needed in their first two games. Then Ovechkin doubled the Caps’ lead because of an energetic zone entry and good situational awareness.
- Things got a little more back-and-forth after that with bodies thrown around all over the ice, namely because of some lively play from Nazem Kadri. Matthews scored off his own rebound shortly thereafter – via Schmidt’s face.
- Another smooth, purposed forecheck led to a juicy rebound for Kuznetsov to score.
- When Washington was awarded a two-man advantage midway through the second and utterly squandered it, the game visibly turned after that and they would not score again.
- The Leafs started to forecheck hard and the Caps couldn’t clear the zone, giving Kadri a chance to score and he did just that.
- Brooks Orpik, Shattenkirk, Lars Eller, and Andre Burakovsky all chased the puck behind the goal, and William Nylander was wide open to score on the rebound past Braden Holtby.
- The Leafs didn’t record a shot on goal during a critical late power play (Tom Wilson was called for roughing with 2:32 left in regulation)…
- …but the Capitals continued to play on their heels for the rest of the game, picking up a grand total of four shots on goal in the final 21:37 of the game.
- After appearing to take their foot off the gas after gaining a two-goal lead twice in this hockey game, Washington melted down under a strong Maple Leafs response, and it looks as though the series – as well as the season itself – is quickly slipping away from them.
What do y’all think? How good of a chance do the Caps have of getting back into the series and ultimately winning it? Let us know in the comment section below.