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Photo Credit: Geoff Burke / USA TODAY Sports

Leafs Postgame: Wrong Will Has His Way

Well, that was something. Something chippy, something yappy, something violent, something exciting, something mystifying, something uplifting, something soul-crushing. Just.. something. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals met at the Verizon Center for a pivotal Game 5, and while the Blue and White put up a heck of a fight, they ultimately fell 2-1 in the fourth sudden-death overtime of the series.

The Rundown

The curse of early first period goals was snapped in this one, as Toronto did a relatively decent job of keeping the fort held. However, as the period progressed, Toronto found itself in penalty trouble. Brian Boyle was called for a hook on Lars Eller, and then, as I’m sure you’ve heard just about everywhere, Nazem Kadri threw a very questionable hit on Alexander Ovechkin, which at first appeared to injure him.

Kadri was called for tripping on the play, which set up a second Capitals powerplay. This time, they made no mistake; a Nicklas Backstrom shot from the far wing was able to find its way to the net, and TJ Oshie calmly deposited the rebound.

Through the hacking, slashing, hitting and chirping that followed the Kadri incident into the second period, the Leafs found a way to get back in the game. Once again, Auston Matthews was the hero, scoring his third of the playoffs to tie the game at 1.

Tempers flared at the end of the period, thanks to a slash by Matt Niskanen on Kadri’s knee; something that wasn’t initially noticed by many (myself included) who believed that Kadri embellished on Ovechkin’s handiwork. But it was good that all went down in the last minute period, as it minimized the extracurriculars in the third. Unfortunately, not much of anything happened in the third; the two teams traded chances, but the game eventually found its way to overtime.

In the extra frame….

Why The Leafs Lost

So much goes wrong here. Preferably, Frederik Andersen leaves the net a little bit sooner to play the puck. He doesn’t. Then, when deciding which of the two players will play the puck, Matt Hunwick and Morgan Rielly both go for it. Auston Matthews is too far in deep to help out much, as and both Zach Hyman and William Nylander are closer to the point, as they regularly should be. But this gives Justin Williams, fresh off the bench, all the room to bury the overtime winner once Marcus Johansson finds his pathway out. Just a rough, rough effort altogether.

Blue Warrior

Frederik Andersen was excellent tonight, stopping 26 of 28 shots. Sure, as mentioned above, he could’ve made a better split second reaction on the Williams goal, but he made a bevy of great saves that got them into the extra frame in the first place. Full credit to him.

See You Next Time

It’s do or die on Sunday. Win and Babcock’s prophecy becomes true. Lose and the season comes to a close. Find out the outcome at 7:00 PM.

  • MartinPolak

    Good game review. Disappointed in the loss but not in the effort. The good thing about this site is that this is one of the few that is able to marry old time, gritty hockey with modern analytics much like Babcock.

      • Stan Smith

        While Nylander did make a nice play on Matthews goal, he did seem to have problems getting the puck to stay on his stick. Marner has gone from the most visible Leaf when he is on the ice the practically invisible. I wonder if he is injured or just plain worn out.

        • jimithy

          Nylander had five chances to bag one but decided to pass or cave and shoot wide giving up possession. Pinball Marner’s giveaways have to stop. Too many are emulating Bozak’s style of not getting involved.
          Ovechkin can’t be allowed to take runs at guys with no consequence.

  • FlareKnight

    Yeah why we lost is pretty simple. 4 powerplays….zero goals.

    The offense didn’t come through and that is that. Let’s see how this team does with their playoff lives on the line.

  • Glen

    The Leafs gave a good effort. That’s all you can ask for. Anderson was good in this game. The power play was horrible in this game and that was the biggest factor in the loss. GLG

    • Stan Smith

      But the penalty kill has sucked since he was hurt. They are definitely missing him on the power play. For one thing he would have no qualms about blocking Ovechkin’s shots.

  • Stan Smith

    While I agree with Babcock’s assessment of the game, but with the exception of the last six minutes of the second period the Leafs no longer seem to have a speed advantage. Plus it’s the Leafs that appear to be more tentative, and the Caps more confident, just the opposite of when the series started.

    This might be nitpicking. I realize a number of errors were made by the Leafs on the last goal but if Rielly is going to block a shot he can’t be turning his head and flinching away from the puck. All he did there was create a screen for Andersen. Andersen would have had a better chance making that save if Rielly wasn’t there at all.

    • lukewarmwater

      Stan I just think it is a group of rookies learning the ropes of winning in the playoffs. Expect the leafs to throw the kitchen sink in game six at the Capitals. I said from day one that the Caps have the playoff experience and trust me it does count even if the Washington team is chokers as they play a young squad just learning about the playoffs. A comparable analysis is the playoff experienced Raptors having their hands full with a young Bucks team.

  • lukewarmwater

    First shift that Ovie is out there the fourth line goes up against the ageing Ovie who now seems to be minimized to a 15 foot area where his slap shot can score on a power play. The guy is ageing rapidly. Oh sure he is throwing some solid hits out there, but this is where Martin comes in and staples his behind to the boards. I give Andersen a lot of credit as he is 50% in o.t. in the playoffs compared to a dreadful regular season percentage. Also give Williams truly a money playoff performer in taking advantage of the youngsters and baring the shot past Andersen. I find it embarrassing to see people going after kids learning what playoff hockey is all about. Come on people be real, If I told you that on April 23rd . the leafs would be playing game six of the first round of the playoffs against the number one team way back in September, well you would suggest I was dreaming. It is reality baby this young team is coming on strong and gaining valuable playoff experience. Go leafs Go.

    • lukewarmwater

      Btw I will give Ovie credit for studying King Jamses Cleveland videos on how to flop like a beached whale demanding a priest come out to save your soul and the next period running every leaf in site. Way to go Ovie you supreme actor. Of course he conned the clown refs just as Lebron does.

      • Gary Empey

        If the point of contact on Kadri’s hit was the knee OV would be in the same boat as Polak. OV tried to sell a 5 minute major, game misconduct and suspension on what was a well delivered hip check. Hip checks are risky because if missed the player blows right by you at top speed and the is some chance if one misjudges it you can accidentally catch the knee.

        • Stan Smith

          While Ovechkin was rolling around on the ice I told my better half that he was faking, and that he would be back. The reason I said that was while he was doing it, he was looking around to see if the referees were looking. A player in that much pain wouldn’t give a crap who was looking. Then Ovechkin was dumb enough to lay a solid hit on Gardiner his first shift back. I’m sure the refs took note of it, and I don’t expect Ovie to get any breaks in the next game or two.

  • lukewarmwater

    Don’t think the little man lawyer Bettman isn’t genuflecting to the owners and Madison ave. advertisers who crave one more Ovie v.s Syd series. Just saying.

  • wallcrawler

    If the Leafs hope to advance, they better work on the entry for the PP, clearly it isn’t working. The trailing player who picks up the drop back pass is simply to far back. By the time he reaches the blue line, there are 4 other Leafs standing still causing a turnover then retrieving the puck from their own end and another replay of what just happened moments earlier.