CAPITALS ADVANCE TO SECOND ROUND
Capitals advance on Johansson’s overtime winner
TORONTO | With a chance to polish off the Toronto Maple Leafs and clinch the best-of-seven playoff series, Washington Capitals Barry Trotz had a message for his team before the game Sunday night.
“You get an opportunity to push someone off a cliff, you need to push them off if you can,” Trotz said.
Pushing Toronto to the precipice hadn’t been easy, and the final shove was no different, but in the fifth overtime in six games, Capitals forward Marcus Johansson scored his second goal of the game and sent Toronto tumbling down yelling ‘Geronimo!’
The Capitals, who were 1-5 in Game 6’s where they led a series 3-2 and 5-15 in potential series-winners in playoff best-of-seven series entering the game, will play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round.
The two teams began overtime tied at one after trading goals in the third period. After 7:45 Toronto’s Auston Matthews got a favorable bounce off the glass on a dump-in and, with the short-range skill he has shown off several games in a row now, buried the puck at 7:45 in the third.
Five minutes later Johanssen, a member of the Evgeny Kuznetsov-centered line that had most of the Capitals’ best chances, scored the equalizer assisted by Lars Eller and Brooks Orpik. It was his first goal of this playoffs.
It was the first time all series that no goals had been scored by the beginning of the third period.
A tighter, defensive game would seem to favor the Capitals, but Washington was the team who seemed lucky to be even after two periods, and even heading into overtime.
The Capitals had been the hotter team from the gun in games two and three, the other games played at Air Canada Center, but the Leafs fulfilled their promise not to let that happen again.
One major change in the Capitals’ favor had come in the faceoff circle where, though the Leafs had been better in games one and two, the Capitals had controlled the game in all three games since.
“Well I think just, competitive juices, both teams are trying to get the puck and we’ve got some veteran guys who are pretty good at it, they do too,” Trotz said Sunday morning. “I think in the first couple games they did a much better job, Our guys are good pros. They adjust to what they’re doing and I think we’ve made our adjustments and therefore we’ve got it back on even keel for us.”
The Leafs adjusted back. Toronto controlled faceoffs, winning 65 percent of pucks in the circle in regulation. Those wins created chances and forced Capitals goalie Braden Holtby to make 36 saves in the first 60 minutes to keep his team in the game.
Toronto’s Frederik Andersen was excellent as well in a 34-save performance, but the most stunning was in the third period when he stopped Oshie one-on-one using his glove. Andersen was every bit Vezina finalist Holtby’s equal.
These Leafs proved themselves through this tightest of series, where the Capitals outscored their opponents by just two goals overall. Pittsburgh, a team with little left to prove, presents a steeper challenge. The first opponent may have been knocked into the abyss, but Washington is still on the climb.
The Washington Capitals’ Marcus Johansson celebrates with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams after scoring in overtime of a 2-1 Game 6 series-clinching victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday.
Washington center Marcus Johansson’s overtime goal was his second score of the game and helped the Capitals advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday. Johansson also netted the game-tying goal late in the third period.