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Photo Credit: Geoff Burke / USA TODAY Sports

Postgame: Storming the Capital

Tonight the Leafs are taking on their seemingly perennial playoff opponent, the Washington Capitals. This is the 6th game of the Maple Leafs’ season, having gone 4-1-0 thus far.

The Capitals have been a tough opponent in the past, but they’ve been mediocre so far this season, with 2 losses at 2-1-1.

The only lineup changes from the Leafs’ previous game is that Igor Ozhiganov draws back in for Martin Marincin, and Andreas Johnsson comes back in the lineup for Tyler Ennis.

Let’s see how this game goes:

1st Period

The period started off pretty well for the Leafs, and were healthily in competition with their opponent. That was all until they gave up a 2-on-1 opportunity between Evgeny Kuznetsov and Chandler Stephenson against Jake Gardiner. The Capitals would Capitalize on the rebound shot from Stephenson:

As the period ran on, the Leafs started taking more of the chances, but ultimately were not able to score. The period ends 1-0 for Washington.

2nd Period

Early in the 2nd period, the Leafs got a fortunate bounce as the point shot from Hainsey gets tipped by Kapanen to tie the game at 1-1:

However, it didn’t take long for the Capitals to regain their lead, as a quite ridiculous shot from Evgeny Kuznetsov beats Anderson, quite understandably:

After a couple minutes of very back-and-forth play, the Leafs drew their first powerplay of the night on a slash by Lars Eller. However, the Leafs were unable to convert on the opportunity.

The Leafs were able to claw back eventually though, as a pass by Jake Gardiner takes a great deflection from Par Lindholm past Braden Holtby into the net to make it 2-2:

The period would end there, with the score tied up heading into the 3rd period.

3rd Period

It seemed as the Leafs and Capitals went into the last segment of the game that both teams were simply waiting for a powerplay chance to flex their muscles with the advantage.

The Leafs got their chance and were able to capitalize, as the 2nd unit came out and Josh Leivo is able to find the back of the net on the rebound:

The Capitals, in turn, would have their opportunity on the powerplay just afterwards. In this case, the Leafs were able to hold off the Capitals on their man advantage.

Then, just before the end of the game, Kasperi Kapanen’s shot squeaks through Holtby and Auston Matthews is able to finish it off to make it 4-2:

The game ended just that way, with the Leafs up 4-2 and getting the well deserved win.

Final Thoughts

The Leafs and Capitals both flexed some very strong offensive muscles in this game. Kuznetsov was a phenom for the Capitals, and Kasperi Kapanen had a fantastic game for the Leafs. Matthews was great as well, and, as usual, John Tavares’ whole line looked stellar.

The Rielly-Hainsey pairing also had a very strong game, with ~65% Corsi For and each getting an assist.

My three stars for the night:

  1. Kasperi Kapanen
  2. Auston Matthews
  3. Morgan Rielly

The Leafs’ next game is Monday at home against the LA Kings at 7:00 pm Eastern time. Go leafs go!

 

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  • Bob Canuck

    I would also add that Freddie played very well. His dSV% (save percentage above average given difficulty of shots faced) was 3.7 percentage points; his GSAA (Goals Saved Above Average) was 1. He was particularly good in the second period when Washington had 64% of the scoring chances and 60% of the high danger scoring chances at 5v5.

  • Matmarwill

    Leafs played a good game against a big, physical team. Their zone exits, neutral zone play and forechecking were all much improved. Andersen was good and the d was good at boxing out and clearing rebounds. A very promising result with good resilience.

    Excellent secondary scoring.
    Good control by all 3 d pairs. Good goaltending. And, of course, the stars played quite well.

    This is a fun team to watch.