Capitals fall behind in series after loss in overtime
Capitals fall 2-1 in series as young Maple Leafs win again in OT
TORONTO | The first two games between the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs were won by unlikely heroes but, on Monday night at the Air Canada Center, the boldface names took over.
Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored for the Capitals in regulation, matched by the Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri and William Nylander. Side-by-side, it looked like hockey’s present paired against its bright future.
The future, though, wasn’t expected to arrive so soon.
When forward Tyler Bozak scored the gamewinner for the Maple Leafs, who won 4-3 in overtime, he became the third member of his team to score his first career playoff goal in the contest but the others, Matthews and Nylander, did so in their first playoffs, as rookies.
At first, the Capitals jumped on the Maple Leafs as they had promised they would. Washington built a two-goal lead in the first period off goals from Backstrom and Ovechkin. Backstrom’s goal came early and was assisted by defenseman Nate Schmidt, who was in the lineup in place of Karl Alzner, who missed the game and is day-to-day with an upper body injury.
Capitals forward Justin Williams and Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly were both in the box with matching minors, making Backstrom’s goal Washington’s first of the entire season scored four-on-four.
Minutes later, Backstrom found Ovechkin in his sweet spot and, with the release of an AK-47, Ovechkin fired. Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen didn’t have a moment to react before the puck was in the net.
Braden Holtby stopped 24 pucks, but couldn’t seem to catch a break. Matthews got the Maple Leafs on the board before the end of the first period, scoring off his own rebound after his original shot caromed off Schmidt’s visor.
The crowd, noticeably quiet after falling behind 2-0, was back in it after their golden boy scored, but Kuznetsov added to the Capitals’ cushion after a lucky rebound of his own, scoring on a sharp angle after a puck bounced off the post.
Kadri made it a one-goal game again after 15:13 in the second and then, with only 40 seconds to go in the period, Nylander scored on a wide-open look. Holtby laid out to block his original shot but Nylander got the rebound and had a wide-open look with defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Brooks Orpik both caught up behind the net.
The Capitals were stuck on the penalty kill for much of the third period. With only 15 seconds to go, Lars Eller went to the box for high sticking, the fourth Capital to take a penalty in the period. He remained there for the start of overtime and never got a chance to leave the box before Bozak ended it.
The Capitals have one more game, on Wednesday, in Toronto before they can return home. For the first time, they trail in the series. This gang of infants is testing them to their limit, and they are starting to run out of time.
Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby watches the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate forward Tyler Bozak’s game-winning goal in overtime of Game 3 of their Stanley Cup first-round series in Toronto on Monday. The Maple Leafs won, 4-3, to take a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 in Toronto on Wednesday.