Maple Leafs score late to beat Ovie and Washington Capitals

Content of the article

Sheldon Keefe waited 2.5 years to test his tactics against Alexander Ovechkin.

Advertising

Content of the article

But the coach didn’t expect to face capital punishment from Tom Wilson, or think the winning goal would be a save effort from defenders Rasmus Sandin and Justin Holl.

As Ovechkin’s burly Toronto-born winger Wilson provided a power play and a shorthanded goal, the Leafs let a 3-1 lead slip away, before the oft-criticized Holl fed Sandin for the winner in a 5-3 final on Monday night. Toronto’s third straight win kept them in contention for first place in the Atlantic Division.

It was the Leafs’ first visit to Capital One Arena since Oct. 16, 2019, with COVID-19 restrictions separating The Great Eight from one of their favorite teams to light up. Ovechkin had 41 goals before the game against Toronto, one of eight NHL teams against which he has at least 40 goals.

Advertising

Content of the article

For Keefe, DC was the only city he hadn’t seen since replacing Mike Babcock.

“It’s good to play against this team, they have a lot of good players,” Keefe said. “I thought we were good in a lot of areas, probably except the power play (0 for 4 and rarely dangerous).

“We didn’t give up a lot of Category A chances, apart from the shorthanded goal, they didn’t come into the race alone.”

The Leafs couldn’t help but get better defensively and in net with Petr Mrazek after a 10-7 slop-fest two nights earlier in Detroit.

But on their last man advantage, John Tavares lost the tie, the Caps fired the puck around the boards and trying valiantly to keep it, Mitch Marner got it through, leading to Wilson’s 2-on-1 tying goal .

Tavares was a good controller all night, however, and had two assists, one on Sandin’s goal, after a fine feint from Holl left the young Swede open.

Advertising

Content of the article

The Leafs scored three “quick” goals in the first period, with Marner first in the corner and crossing for rookie league point guard Michael Bunting’s 19th goal at 2:35.

“Right now it’s okay for me, but I’m not letting the highs get too high,” Bunting said.

Then it was Tavares, true to his mantra of doing small things to contribute as he works through a 13-game scoreless streak, the worst since his freshman year on The Show. He went behind the net to escape two Caps and feed William Nylander. Earlier he hit a pole.

“John looks like a guy ready to burst here to me,” Keefe predicted.

The Leafs’ first line were pressed in the dying seconds, with Marner taking a desperate hit on a loose puck alongside Ilya Samsonov who broke away for Holl. Back in the lineup on Saturday with three assists, Holl scored a confidence goal, his second of the season.

Advertising

Content of the article

Marner, deep in the scoring pack after missing much of December through injury, was one of the NHL’s best at the start of 2022 and with two points he now has 56 and among the top 20 in the league.

In what was to be considered a major psychological victory, goaltender Petr Mrazek took the Leafs out of the first period with only one goal against. Two nights earlier, with a five-goal lead, Toronto conceded five in the third, three ahead of Jack Campbell before a cold Mrazek arrived.

“(Campbell and him) have a great friendship and push each other to be better every day,” Mrazek said after his 30-stop night. “If someone is having a hard time, just try to help them, make them happy. Sometimes you have hard stretches, you just have to let go.

We apologize, but this video failed to load.

perfectly points a point from Nicklas Backstrom to briefly equalize the first. Ovechkin, with 10 goals against Mrazek in his career, was stopped at close range when the Czech came out to cut the angle of his cannon on the power play. After missing with a second drive, he took the pass route to Wilson.

Advertising

Content of the article

But Washington slipped, especially at home with six straight losses. Samsonov’s first-period woes prompted coach Peter Laviolette to activate Vitek Vanecek after a recall from a conditioning stint Monday morning following his concussion in early February.

League point guard Auston Matthews didn’t hit, in fact he failed to register a shot, but using his one-handed long reach, he kicked a rolling puck off the goal line of Mrazek in the first.

Pierre Engvall and defender Travis Dermott, both scratched Saturday due to a stomach problem in the Toronto hall, were in morning practice and due to sit out again, but Ondrej Kase fell ill and Engvall was back, adding an empty net.

The Leafs are now home for a couple, Wednesday against Buffalo and Saturday against Vancouver, both expected to have 100% capacity at Scotiabank Arena as pandemic limits are gradually lifted in the province.
[email protected]

[email protected]

Advertising

comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user follows you comments. See our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Comments are closed.