Trotz: Caps vic­tim of ‘strange goals’ as se­ries shifts to DC

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Barry Trotz is won­der­ing aloud if Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals have been the vic­tim of some bad bounces against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“They’ve got some strange goals, and that some­times can play in your mind a little bit and we fought through that,” Trotz said Thurs­day. “We’re get­ting re­ally men­tally tough in this se­ries be­cause we’re work­ing, and you cre­ate your own luck.”

With the se­ries tied 2-2 go­ing into Game 5 in Wash­ing­ton tonight, the Cap­i­tals are fac­ing a big­ger test than any­one ever imag­ined. Mor­gan Rielly said the Maple Leafs have earned the right to feel con­fi­dent, and play­ers don’t be­lieve they’re all even in this se­ries be­cause of luck. Quite the op­po­site. Echo­ing their coach, who noted they weren’t at their best and still were within a goal in the Game 4 loss, de­fence­man Con­nor Car­rick called Game 4 an “op­por­tu­nity missed.”

“We didn’t play any­where close to what we’re ca­pa­ble of,” goal­tender Fred­erik An­der­sen said.

Had the Maple Leafs erased a 4-1 deficit to take com­mand of the se­ries, the pres­sure would have been squarely on the Pres­i­dents’ Tro­phy win­ners with the check­ered play­off past.

Al­ready the Cap­i­tals were look­ing tight and the ex­pec­ta­tion is still on them to win and ad­vance.

“I think we got our heads on straight right now on how we want to play, and un­for­tu­nately it’s taken us a cou­ple games to get there,” right winger T.J. Oshie said af­ter the game. “So we want to im­prove on (Game 4) and get even bet­ter, but I think (Wed­nes­day night) was a right step breath­ing-wise.

Breath­ing is essen­tial for a team that hasn’t made it past the sec­ond round in the past decade with Alex Ovechkin

and Nick­las Back­strom, and is fac­ing ma­jor ros­ter changes this sum­mer no mat­ter the re­sult. This is Ovechkin’s best chance at the Stan­ley Cup, and ev­ery­one knows it.

“Yeah, I’m sure for him it’s hard not to think about that type of thing,” Maple Leafs cen­tre Nazem Kadri said. “But I think he’s not the only desperate one that’s go­ing to be out there. I think we’re go­ing to be a desperate team fight­ing to bring the se­ries back to Toronto up a game. It’s desperate for both groups, but yeah, I’m sure he’s feel­ing it a little bit.”

Mean­while, the Maple Leafs are at the start of their con­tend­ing win­dow.

They’re play­ing with house money and sound like the more con­fi­dent bunch.

“We’re ca­pa­ble of win­ning this se­ries,” winger Matt Martin said. “We just have to stay the course.”

Maple Leafs at Cap­i­tals, se­ries tied 2-2 (8 p.m.) Wash­ing­ton de­fence­man Karl Alzner’s sta­tus is un­clear af­ter miss­ing the past two games with an up­per-body in­jury. He skated with a hand­ful of other play­ers Thurs­day, and Trotz termed him “day to day.”

Braden Holtby, who has al­lowed 14 goals in four games

and has a .902 save per­cent­age, also skated. Trotz called it “a pin­ball ma­chine out there” and said he wasn’t wor­ried about Holtby but didn’t ex­actly give his reign­ing Vez­ina Tro­phy win­ning goal­tender’s play in this se­ries a ring­ing en­dorse­ment.

“It’s hard to gauge it be­cause they’ve had a lot of strange stuff,” Trotz said, prais­ing Holtby for be­ing hard-nosed to han­dle bad bounces. “Dur­ing the year, goalies, they do ev­ery­thing on pre­dictabil­ity and there are a lot of things that aren’t very pre­dictable right now and that’s what at times makes Braden look like he’s not there.”

Who’s ac­tu­ally not there are winger Brett Con­nolly, who played 4:26 in Game 4, and de­fence­man Kevin Shat­tenkirk, who saw 12:18 of ice time with just one power-play shift. Depth was con­sid­ered one of the Cap­i­tals’ ad­van­tages, but Trotz short­en­ing his bench bears watch­ing.

Bru­ins at Se­na­tors, Ot­tawa

leads 3-1 (8:30 p.m.) Bos­ton is still banged up and is now on the brink of elim­i­na­tion. Interim coach Bruce Cas­sidy said in­jured de­fence­men Torey Krug, Bran­don Carlo and Adam McQuaid are pro­gress­ing, but he doesn’t ex­pect them to play in Game 5.

The Se­na­tors aren’t miss­ing three of their top four de­fence­men but could again be with­out Mark Borowiecki be­cause of a lower-body in­jury and miss for­ward Tom Py­att af­ter he left Game 4 with an up­per-body in­jury. Men­tally, though, Ot­tawa is healthy and at peace with its sit­u­a­tion in the se­ries.

“It’s im­por­tant (to close it out) but you’re not think­ing, ‘Oh, we have to do this,”’ cen­tre Kyle Tur­ris said.

“If it doesn’t hap­pen next game, we’re go­ing to do the same thing the game af­ter. We won’t get frus­trated, but we do re­al­ize there’s ur­gency in­volved.”

AP PHOTO

The Bos­ton Bru­ins are on the brink of elim­i­na­tion as they visit the Ot­tawa Se­na­tors for Game 5 tonight.

CP PHOTO

The Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals and Toronto Maple Leafs square off in Game 5 of their first-round se­ries tonight.

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