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Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Postgame: Capital Attack

The Leafs entered their matchup against Alex Ovechkin and Hometown Hero Headhunter Tom Wilson having lost a tough pair of games out west and hoping to bounce back.

Instead, the team failed to get any momentum going for a third straight game, scrambling from behind once again as they fell in an ultimate 3-2 final score against the Washington Capitals to let Montreal creep closer in the standings once again.

THE RUNDOWN

The first period saw the Leafs come out fairly strong, with a couple of quality chances against Braden Holtby (including one that only stayed out by the virtue of the good lord himself) and some impressive play by Freddie Andersen.

Unfortunately, although the Leafs managed to avoid getting too chippy in the first, the Capitals went on the man advantage early in the second period – and Alex Ovechkin set up in his typical post to score one of those age-old goals he’s so good at:

The second period was an absolute mess for the Leafs –  who took three of the five penalties in the period, allowed the Ovechkin goal to go with Brett Connolly’s 15th of the season, and got outshot 13-9 – and they went into the second intermission down 2-0.

The third period, the Leafs once again tried to get things going, putting up a whopping 21 shots on Holtby’s net and getting a pair of goals before the game ended (including a strong 34th goal from Tavares with less than a minute to go). But Tom Wilson not only managed to skate through the game without a single penalty, he also managed to tally a short-handed beauty against his hometown team after Andreas Johnsson’s goal in the middle of the third to ensure that Tavares’ goal wasn’t enough to get the Leafs out of the game alive.

OBSERVATIONS

  • The Leafs have now lost to the Capitals – who literally got trounced by the Anaheim Ducks not even a week ago – the formerly-miserable St. Louis Blues, and the Arizona Coyotes, who have been using Darcy Kuemper as their starter since late November. It’s all come in the last week, too, which is a tough way to approach the trade deadline for the Leafs even with the bright spots they’ve had popping up here and there.
  • The Brett Connolly goal wasn’t Frederik Andersen’s best moment in the game, but he’s also continued to be one of the best players on the team even as they’ve struggled in their last stretch of games. His save percentage wasn’t amazing on Thursday, but his two performances before that were game-winning showings that the team didn’t manage to capitalize on. If they’re getting tired now, things are only going to get harder for Andersen when the playoffs roll around – just take a look at how the postseason went for them last year for proof.

On the plus side, the Leafs are doing better than whatever’s happening with the Penguins right now!

Good stuff.

The Leafs have another one of those crucial games against the Canadiens coming up Saturday, and if they lose again they’ll fall to a four-game skid. They’ll also be just one point ahead of Montreal once again, which is a dangerous place to be if Toronto wants to stay out of that Wild Card spot.

Who wore the Crown?

After every Leaf game, we’re recognizing one Leaf player who best exemplified what it means to play hockey the “Toronto Way”: with heart and soul, above all else. Who wore the Crown is brought to you by Crown Royal, passionate fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

This game was back and forth but for the Leafs, the Crown-wearer should probably be Andreas Johnsson. He popped on in to get the buds back on the board, and hey, he’s been killing it since November or so.

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