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Capitals vs. Maple Leafs Recap: Leafs Strong Second Period Leads Them to Win

Caps lifeless third hinders comeback in away loss

NHL: Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Caps were not able to build off their big win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, letting a bad second period erase the momentum and falling into a deficit they couldn’t erase.

Here’s Sunday evening’s plus/minus:

Plus: Honestly, the Caps didn’t play as poor as the score dictated through two periods. The Maple Leafs scored some goofy goals but the Caps’ first forty minutes were good, especially for an away game.

Minus: The third period, however, was lifeless, which is a shame because if they stuck with it, it felt like they could have clawed back into the game.

A few more notes on tonight’s game:

  • The Maple Leafs came out hot to start the game, which was expected considering they played poorly last game against Ottawa in a loss and they also honored team captain John Tavares before the game. Luckily, Darcy Kuemper came ready and made some huge saves to keep the Caps in it.
  • After about eight minutes, the Caps started to find their game and started creating some pressure and chances.
  • The Caps drew the first true power play of the game (a coincidental minor was called earlier). They haven’t scored too much lately on the man advantage, just two their last 24 but Nicklas Backstrom called his own number with a Marcus Johansson screen and sniped it top corner to give the Caps a 1-0 lead.
  • The Maple Leafs nearly tied it with less than a minute left when a puck when off the backboards to next to the net, was poked to a Maple Leafs on the other side of the net for an open chance but they flubbed it. You can’t feel too bad for them because that’s been the Caps the last three weeks it seems.
  • Early in the second period, Nicolas Abue-Kubel, went 1-on-1 with the defensemen and created a great scoring chance, but just second later took an ill advised offensive zone penalty. On the power play, the Maple Leafs tied up the game, after an unlucky bounce off Nick Jensen’s skate the left the puck open for a tap in goal.
  • Not long after, a scrum with five guys below the Caps goal line broke out, in the chaos, the puck popped out perfectly to a waiting Morgan Reilly, who sniped it top corner to give the Maple Leafs a 1-2 lead. A reminder that Reilly, a highly skilled defensemen, hasn’t scored a goal all season. It is just the continuous string of Caps giving up goals to guy who haven’t scored goals all season or in long stretches. Caps have no luck this season.
  • A couple minute later, after a great shift by the Caps, the Caps were called for an unknown penalty that somehow still sent the Leafs in on a 3-on-1. Erik Gustaffson was able to get a stick on it, then it hit Kuemper’s pads but was somehow still not called dead. The Leafs knocked it in giving them a 1-3 lead.
  • Shortly after that the Leafs made it 1-4, drawing in Charlie Lindgren. The Caps weren’t playing poorly. Just some weird, unlucky goals against.
  • The Caps drew a power play to end the period but made nothing of it, which is shame, because it was there chance to really get back into the game.
  • With thirteen minutes left, Gustafsson took penalty that a ref probably shouldn’t be calling with a team down three, but alas. The Caps actually crated a great scoring chance shorthanded but Ilya Samsonov came up big with a mask save that knocked his helmet off.
  • With three minutes the Maple Leafs made it 1-5.

Up Next: Caps take on the Blue Jackets Tuesday at 7PM. It is their last game until February 11th due to the All-Star break.