Postgame: Toronto Capital-izes on a tired Washington team

Tonight, the Leafs are taking on the Washington Capitals who have been linked to the Leafs regularly over the last few years. The playoff series in 2016, and then the outdoor game for the Stadium Series in 2018.

The game is in Toronto, where the Leafs are only 13-11-1 this season. In their last 10 games, the Leafs have 7 losses and just 3 wins; similarly, the Capitals have 3 wins, but have grabbed 3 extra points with overtime losses.

1st period

The biggest play in the early goings of the first period was this big save by Frederik Andersen on Evgeni Kuznetsov:

This scary moment happened not long after, when the dangerous scorer Alex Ovechkin ran into his own teammate, TJ Oshie:

Ovechkin was pulled from the game after the hit, under the concussion protocol, but returned to the game not long after.

Late in the 3rd, the Leafs had a penalty against to kill off, but were unable to do so as the always dangerous Capitals powerplay found the first goal of the game on a great pass from Evgeni Kuznetsov to Nicklas Backstrom.

It took almost no time for the Leafs to tie it back up though, as Braden Holtby has an unfortunate bounce right in front of him and Nazem Kadri found it before Holtby could cover it up.

The period ended not long after this goal with a 1-1 tie between the two competing teams. Shots on goal were 10 to 8 for Washington in the frame.

2nd period

The electric shot of Alex Ovechkin, held by the NHL’s leader in goals scored, took advantage of the Leafs early in the 2nd period. This perfect shot on the far side of Andersen.

The Leafs were denied on a great chance at the side of the net by Kasperi Kapanen, who was stopped by the defenseman playing goalie, Jonas Siegenthaller.

Later on, the Leafs tied the game up on a great 200 foot shift by William Nylander, as he went backchecking to steal the puck from Ovechkin, then gets the zone entry the other way to find Zaitsev at the point for a goal.

The Leafs had some strong scoring chances but were ultimately unable to convert any further and finished the period ahead 3-2. Shots on goal were 19-19 in that period, giving Washington a 29-27 lead in that category for the game.

3rd period

It didn’t take very long for the Leafs to get the scoring going again, as one of the first few shifts for the Leafs was this great 2-on-2 by Nazem Kadri and Connor Brown.

A flying run of controlled play back and forth encompassed the majority of the third period, where they went nearly 5 minutes without a whistle. It was capped off by another great play by the Kadri line, earning him a hat trick to stack some more insurance on this game.

Late in the 3rd, the Capitals make a dent in the Leafs’ lead on an unfortunate tip in front of the net off of Ron Hainsey and past Andersen to make it 5-3.

The game ends with Mitch Marner burying an empty-net goal making the final score 6-3 for the Leafs.

Final Thoughts

This was an incredible bounce back game by a number of Leafs tonight. Nylander, Matthews, Kadri, and Zaitsev all had solid redemption nights.

My three stars of the night are as follows:

  1. Nazem Kadri
  2. William Nylander
  3. Connor Brown

I really couldn’t pick anything other than this newly-formed forward line for the Leafs. They were fantastic.

The Leafs next game is after the All Star Break, on Friday February 1st, when they take on the long-time rival Detroit Red Wings at 7:30pm. Hope to see you there, and Go Leafs Go!

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  • Alan

    A great night for Kadri’s line. Naz has been playing most of the season with the best of the rest and although he’s hit a lot of posts not many game changing performances from his line. That all changed in this game. The other lines didn’t do much but give it time. Tavares needs a playmaker and that’s not Kappys strength. Good to see Matthews score even though it was a power play.