Matthews, Domi combine for nine points, Maple Leafs defeat Capitals 7-3

Photo credit:Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
28 days ago
After beginning their back-to-back with a loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers the night prior, the Toronto Maple Leafs closed out their mini road trip in Washington last night as they took on the Capitals with a couple of familiar faces on each side.

First period:

Following their defeat to the Flyers on Tuesday night, the Maple Leafs had lost two games in a row, a situation they haven’t been in for over two months. However, the good thing about a back-to-back is you’re right back at it the next night, and for Toronto, they had an opportunity to get back in the win column against Washington. After allowing a goal 19 seconds into the first period against the Flyers, it took the Leafs only 16 seconds to open the scoring last night after Auston Matthews potted home his 56th goal of the season past Charlie Lindgren thanks to an impressive forecheck and pass by Max Domi behind the goal line.
You couldn’t have asked for a better start if you were Toronto. Matthews, who entered last night with two goals in his previous eight games, finally found the back of the net again, and Toronto, on a losing streak, gets on the board early with a tally. However, the Capitals, who have turned their season around over the last month and are back in a playoff position, pushed back immediately following the Matthews goal. The following shifts were in Toronto’s zone as Washington tried desperately to tie the game up and continued for a chunk of the period.
I know shots don’t tell the whole story, given they can be a shot from the blue line that is an easy save for the goalie, but through the first four minutes, the shots were even at 3-3. The following 10-12 minutes saw Washington with an 8-4 shot advantage with a couple of great looks on the net, but Joseph Woll was there to turn them aside, keeping his team ahead 1-0. Toward the end of the period, the Maple Leafs got close on the shot clock and generated a couple of more looks, but it was evident the Capitals, despite allowing a goal 16 seconds in, looked like the better team.
According to Naturalstattrick.com, the Capitals held a 6-1 advantage in high-danger chances and a 15-5 advantage in scoring chances at five-on-five in the first frame.
Toronto entered the first intermission up 1-0 and outshot 10-8.

Second period:

Similarly to scoring less than a minute into the first period (16 seconds), Toronto continued that trend into the second period, scoring 56 seconds into the second frame. John Tavares sprung William Nylander in transition, and he ripped his 38th of the season past Lindgren for the 2-0 lead.
Unlike the start of the game, after scoring early in the period, the Maple Leafs kept their foot on the gas pedal and looked like the better team for the next eight minutes. They quickly got out to an 8-1 shot advantage over the Capitals early in the second frame and came close to making it a 3-0 game, but the puck stopped inches off the goal line after Nylander swatted it out of mid-air and a Capitals defender came in and cleared the crease.
Unfortunately, they call it a game of inches for a reason. Minutes after nearly making it 3-0, Matthew Knies was sent to the box for hooking Tom Wilson, and the Capitals went to the power play. It took them 52 seconds to find the back of the net as John Carlson teed up Alex Ovechkin for a one-timer from a ridiculous angle, cutting Toronto’s lead in half just before the midway point of the frame.
Now it’s a two-goal game, which isn’t ideal given Toronto was so close to going up 3-0, as mentioned above. For the road team, scoring the next goal was crucial, and Auston Matthews decided to double-dip for his 57th of the season.
An innocent-looking shot from a distance beat Lindgren, and just like that, the lead was restored.
35 seconds after Matthews’ second of the night, Connor McMichael got on the board with his 15th of the season after banking the puck off of Joseph Woll’s arm, cutting the Maple Leafs’ lead to one, again. Sitting on two goals on the night – 57 on the season – Matthews thought he had scored his third goal for his seventh hat-trick this season. Unfortunately, after a coach’s challenge, it was deemed Tyler Bertuzzi was offside, wiping the goal off the board for Toronto.
With 25 seconds left in the middle frame, after an offensive zone face-off win, Matthews and Domi played catch with the puck, and the latter, who swapped places with Jake McCabe on this play, fired the puck toward the net from the blue line, and it took a bounce off the defender and in for his seventh of the season.
Although they scored 16 seconds into the first period, Toronto played on their heels for a good chunk of that period. But they responded well in the next frame, scoring three goals and having the edge in high-danger chances (4-3) and scoring chances (11-9) over Washington at five-on-five.
Toronto entered the second intermission up 4-2, outshooting Washington 22-18.

Third period:

It wasn’t a first-minute goal to start the third period like the previous two, but Toronto headed to their first power play of the night 1:10 into the final frame as Ovechkin was sent to the box for hooking. It was the same story as the other handful of power plays over the last couple of weeks: no goals. Their power play struggles continued, and despite getting another man advantage roughly two minutes after Ovechkin was called for hooking, John Carlson was sent to the box for slashing Tyler Bertuzzi, preventing a breakaway chance.
Washington killed off their second penalty, and it was evident it gave them some momentum. Almost immediately after Carlson jumped out of the box, Ovechkin, who scored in the second period, received a pass from Dylan Strome and roofed his second of the night, putting him 50 goals shy of Wayne Gretzky’s record. For the third time in the game, the Capitals answered the Maple Leafs’ tally after going up two goals, but what happened next wouldn’t be enough for the home team to come back in the game.
A little over a minute after Ovechkin’s 23rd goal of the season, William Nylander found Bobby McMann streaking toward the net, and he perfectly put the puck on his tape for him to tap his 11th of the season past Lindgren, restoring the two-goal lead.
Just 38 seconds after McMann’s tally, the top line of Bertuzzi, Matthews, and Domi went to work again in the offensive zone. Domi worked along the wall and found Matthews near the slot, who fed Bertuzzi with a backhand pass backdoor, and the Sudbury native potted home his 15th of the season.
Toronto got another power play opportunity in the middle of all this goal-scoring after Washington got called for a too-many-men penalty. Although they didn’t score and went 0-for-3 on their three attempts in the third period, Tom Wilson sent the road team back to the man advantage for four minutes after viciously high-sticking Noah Gregor. I’ll skip to the part where they scored because it took them 3:47 into the double-minor to put the puck in the net. John Tavares backhanded his 23rd of the season past Lindgren, giving Toronto their third power-play goal in their last 30 attempts (nine games) and the commanding 7-3 lead with under four minutes to go.
No more goals would be scored in this goal-scoring fest, and the Maple Leafs ended their two-game losing streak by picking up an impressive 7-3 win on the road on the second night of a back-to-back.

Who stood out:

It was a nice bounce-back win for the Maple Leafs following their 4-3 loss to the Flyers on Tuesday night. Four players in particular led the way with a combined 15 points (Matthews, Domi, Nylander, and Tavares) while scoring on the power play in consecutive games for the first time in what feels like forever.
The top line, with Bertuzzi and Domi on the wings with Matthews, played outstanding last night. According to Moneypuck.com, the line played 8:30 at five-on-five, outscored the opposition 2-0, won the shot attempt battle 12-7, outshot the opposition 6-3, and generated an xGF% of 64.3%.
John Tavares also climbed the NHL ranks last night with his 23rd goal of the season. His third-period tally put him in a three-way tie with Doug Gilmour and Peter Stasny for 450 career goals.
With yesterday’s win, Joseph Woll earned his 10th win of the season, giving the Maple Leafs three goalies with ten or more wins this season.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on Saturday night when they return home to take on Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers for the final time this season. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.

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