First night of playoffs teaches lesson to young Maple Leafs
Maple Leafs defenceman Roman Polak was forced to exit Game 2 against the Capitals and will miss the remainder of the season according to coach Mike Babcock. On Saturday night, he scored once in regulation and was the double-overtime hero for the Leafs, scoring the game-winner and tying their playoff series with the Washington Capitals in a 4-3 victory. "Two big goals and I think our team played really well today". Toronto had a few close calls near Holtby, but neither side could produce the game-winner in the third, and overtime was required for the second time in the series. "I think one of their D-men lost their stick".
Rielly and Gardiner both logged more than 40 minutes in the win after Roman Polak went down with a season-ending injury (right leg) late in the second frame.
"As far as the minutes go, we'll be fine", Rielly said.
"We're going to get better and better in the series obviously as our confidence grows", Babcock said. "Everyone's talked about how it's been (unexpected) for us just to make the playoffs, but we want to do more". The Capitals, who have not advanced past the conference semifinals since 1997-98, have surrendered the home-ice advantage. The Maple Leafs evened the series heading to Game 3 on Monday night in Toronto and have proven they can hang with Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington. "It's been a little bit of an uphill battle".
"Going home, we look forward to it". Nicklas Backstrom tied it for the top-seeded Capitals with 7:21 left in regulation. Alex Ovechkin answered a James van Riemsdyk goal, but was stopped by Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen in the last minute of the first overtime on a breakaway. On Kapanen's game-winner, Martin got the puck out along the boards to Boyle, who executed a flawless backwards pass to the rookie on Holtby's doorstep.
Ovechkin and John Carlson added goals for Washington.
Clarke MacArthur, Chris Wideman and Derick Brassard also scored for the Senators and Craig Anderson made 26 saves.
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Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak (42) battles for the puck with Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) during the first period in Game 2 of an NHL Stanley Cup first round hockey playoff series in Washington, Satu. The son of longtime National Hockey League forward Sami Kapanen didn't get called up until late March but scored in the Maple Leafs' playoff clincher and is developing quite the reputation for making big plays. It went right to Van Riemsdyk and he wristed a high shot past Holtby from the slot with 2:26 left in the period.
Mikael Backlund scored a short-handed goal and Sean Monahan had a power-play goal for the Flames.
First, Ovechkin beat Andersen with a wrister from his usual spot in the left circle off a pass from T.J. Oshie at 3:47. Toronto built up a 2-0 lead in Game 1 of the series, but ultimately fell 3-2 to the Caps in overtime. It bounced off the skate of Daniel Winnik and no one could seem to corral it until Kapanen took it and backhanded a shot through the five-hole of Braden Holtby.
The Maple Leafs failed on their first four power-play chances in the series, but the fifth time was the charm. The play itself was nothing special as Rielly skated along the blue line and fired a wrister that somehow avoided all traffic and hit the top corner past a screened Holtby. He nearly always has a great game and boy did he come up with some big saves on Saturday including a clutch save on Hyman with three minutes left to go in the third period in a tie game off a bad turnover from Niskanen and multiple incredible overtime saves.
The Leafs will now turn to either 25-year-old Russian defenseman Alexey Marchenko, Zaitsev (if he's healthy), or a replacement from the Marlies. Martin has been laying the number all season and Boyle is the battle-tested leader the Leafs knew they'd need to make - and compete - in the playoffs, but for the pure goal scorer like Kapanen committing to playing their grittier brand of hockey has made the fourth line more unsafe than ever. Alex Ovechkin (14) passed Peter Bondra (13) for first place on the Capitals' playoff power-play goals list.
The Leafs are already without defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, who is recovering from a concussion.
Ryan Johansen had a goal and two assists for the Predators, who have outscored the Blackhawks, 6-0 in the first two games.
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Apr 17 2017