Capitals beat Maple Leafs, Predators defeat Blackhawks

Modesto Morganelli
Aprile 15, 2017

Toronto coach Mike Babcock called the game a "confidence-builder", but didn't love everything he saw. You know about the social media because you have kids. The Maple Leafs were fading, but their goaltender was miraculously keeping them in it. Trotz, the longtime Western Conference coach, assured Babcock that Andersen was a hell of a talent.

The intensity and objective Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews exuded while speaking with reporters before his debut in the Stanley Cup Playoffs suggested just the opposite.

There was more open ice in the first period of Game 1 than there was in nearly any of the five playoff openers a night earlier. Unaware that all he had to do was fall down to smother the puck, Andersen continued to search for it but was beaten by Williams, who hacked the puck in to tie the game at two with his second of the game.

Washington Capitals left wing Marcus Johansson (90) pressures Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Matt Hunwick (2) during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL Stanley Cup first round playoff series in Washington, Thursday, April 13, . "See you next week", he texted his father when the playoff matchup was set. They showed they can. That combination doesn't happen often. But that doesn't mean they're not going to enjoy it while it lasts. They had taken the crowd away.

"I think it erases any doubts if the kids had it", said veteran Matt Hunwick after Tom Wilson scored the OT victor in the Caps 3-2 Game 1 win. One night it was Wilson in Washington. So who had Tanner Glass, Joel Edmundson, Frank Vatrano or Melker Karlsson in their hockey pools?

There were the times Nicklas Backstrom came by for dinner. There are no bad shots in overtime, after all. A quick shot. A wristed fluke. Auston Matthews nearly scored, almost set up two other goals. Braden Holtby, meanwhile, compiled another year of Vezina Trophy consideration. He was doing what goaltenders are supposed to do. Instead of opening on Wednesday as Ottawa's building conflict dictated, his newbies had a chance to watch other teams get their baptism on TV, particularly the youthful Oilers. He faced 44 shots, allowed three against.

Only he didn't know where the puck was. And Williams, who has a knack for this kind of thing around the net come playoff time, pushed the puck easily into the net. "There was just a one-shot difference".

"I see it obviously because my phone's not off", Wilson said. "I Iost track of it". The playoffs are a different animal.

But Washington's Game 7 woes predate the Ovechkin era. After letting in a soft goal in the second period, Freddy Andersen was rock solid for the Leafs throughout the third period, making big save after big save, many of them with his dramatic glove hand.

"It's just one of the best things that has happened to the National Hockey League since Crosby and Ovechkin", Gretzky wrote. The Caps found Marincin.

Maple Leafs defenceman Nikita Zaitsev will remain out for Game 2 against the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals celebrate Williams' game-tying goal. Isn't that the great hockey mantra? It promises to be an experience Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Co. will never forget, especially if they find a way to spoil the celebratory atmosphere. There was a lot to feel right about. We take pride in our defensive game.

Back-to-back penalties on Toronto's Brian Boyle and Zach Hyman gave Washington a 90-second, five-on-three advantage midway through the first.

After the Leafs had generally been the better team for the first 40 minutes, game one finally began to follow the anticipated script in the third as the Capitals were buzzing throughout the period.

The Leafs' share of scoring opportunities had dried up nearly entirely before Wilson's game-winner. Now it's important that we leave here 1-1. "They're a heck of a team, but we're not slouches, either".

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