The Capitals returned home after a difficult loss in New Jersey to square off against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Capital One Arena. Washington got off to a quick start but could not hold off the Maple Leafs’ offense, falling 4 to 2 at home.
Here’s Saturday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Chandler Stephenson was moved up to the first line, replacing Brett Connolly for Tom Wilson’s fifth missed game due to suspension.
Minus: Washington allowed two goals on five shots against in the second frame.
Nine more notes on the game.
- 18 seconds into the contest Stephenson validated his position on the first line by stuffing home an Evgeny Kuznetsov rebound behind Frederik Anderson. A long outlet pass from Alex Ovechkin allowed Kuznetsov and Stephenson to connect for an early lead.
- Braden Holtby was both excellent and lucky through the first period. He denied Kasperi Kapanen from fifteen feet out with a strong glove save but was also the beneficiary of two pucks off the post late in the frame.
- Less than four minutes into the second period Kapenen tied the contest at one by deflecting a Ron Hainsey point shot down and underneath Braden Holtby from atop the left faceoff circle.
- Kuznetsov, though, would respond immediately for Washington. With John Tavares in the penalty box Kuznetsov picked up a pass from Nicklas Backstrom to Anderson’s left and ripped a high and hard shot shortside that caromed in off the crossbar.
- But before the end of the second Toronto would draw even again. Jake Gardiner sent a hard pass from the left wall across the crease where Par Lindholm redirected it up and over Holtby’s left side to knot the game at two.
- Forty seconds into the third period Kapanen found himself in alone on a breakaway. He deked around Holtby but stuffed his forehand chance just wide of the right post.
- With Michael Kempny in the penalty box six minutes later the Maple Leafs put themselves ahead for the first time. Josh Leivo stashed a soft Andreas Johnsson shot into the net, just beyond the grasp of Holtby’s glove.
- Washington furiously tried to tie the contest late in the third but great looks from T.J. Oshie and Jakub Vrana did not connect, keeping Toronto ahead by one.
- And with less than two minutes to play Auston Matthews picked up a loose puck in the crease and slammed home his tenth (!) goal of the season to close out the contest.