January 03 2017 10:18PM
Photo Credit: Amber Searls/USA TODAY SPORTS
In a rollercoaster of emotions, the Toronto Maple Leafs have seen their winning streak snapped at five games, though an overtime loss to the Washington Capitals has delivered a standings point to the table for the 9th time in the past 10 games.
Toronto's struggles started very early in this one, when Nikita Zaitsev was sent to the penalty box for a hook on Alex Ovechkin just 33 seconds into the game. Not long afterward, Justin Williams put the Capitals ahead with his skate, redirecting Dmitri Orlov's powerplay point shot past Frederik Andersen.
The Leafs bounced back though. A call against the Caps put the blue and white on their own powerplay not long afterward, and with that man advantage, Nazem Kadri was able to pot his 14th of the season. Not long after that, Connor Brown took in a pass from Zach Hyman and fired a wicked wrister past Braden Holtby, triggering this awesome celebration.
Connor Brown does the Zorro / Radulov celebration after putting the Leafs up pic.twitter.com/GiP8GV4wOw— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 4, 2017
Two more goals found their way to the back of the net before the period could close; TJ Oshie supported Williams as he burst out of the penalty box and made no mistake in patiently picking Andersen's corner, and while Connor Carrick's broken stick took some milage off his shot, Frederik Gauthier was able to redirect it in to give the Leafs a lead after twenty.
In the second period, a penalty to Ovechkin for tripping Zaitsev (what goes around comes around) put the Leafs on another powerplay, which set up this amazing assist by Auston Matthews, made even better by Leo Komarov's taunting celebration after depositing it home:
Auston Matthews with an assist of the year candidate, setting up Leo Komarov to put the Leafs up 4-2. Komarov consoles Orpik afterward. pic.twitter.com/vjoMFNIEUW— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 4, 2017
Toronto was flying high, but with the Caps outplaying them on the whole, it felt like it was only a matter of time before the floodgates burst. WIthin four minutes of the start of the third period, they did; Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov both managed to send rockets into the back of the net.
A couple of lucky chops by Bozak and JVR send Mitch Marner off on a breakaway and he makes no mistake. 5-4 Leafs in the third. pic.twitter.com/M7QuoPYr5s— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 4, 2017
Mitch Marner gave Toronto another lead with less than ten minutes ago, but that was promptly responded to by John Carlson, who made the most of a spotty defensive play by the Bozak line that wasn't helped out much but Jake Gardiner and Carrick. This sent the game to overtime, and in that bonus frame, Ovechkin found an opportunity to take an open shot and, in Ovechkin fashion, buried it, giving the Caps the win and himself a shared record for the most overtime goals in NHL history.
Look, there isn't really a player who looked good to the spreadsheets, good to the eyes, and good to the intangibles today. You could almost skip the warrior thing, despite the fact Toronto spent much of the game in the lead. But I'll give it to Connor Carrick. He had some gaffes that made this not an amazing overall effort, but he led the team in shot attempt differential and, to the benefit of our entertainment, was a pest throughout the night.
See You Next Time
From Warmups: James van Riemsdyk fails twice to get a puck to a pair of Leafs fans, but Auston Matthews, as always, plays hero. pic.twitter.com/g3Kucwo1lQ— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 4, 2017
With that game behind them, the Leafs now get three days off. They'll be taking on the New Jersey Devils on Friday night to end their not-at-the-ACC trip, dropping the puck at 7:30. See you then!