Kasperi Kapanen netted his second goal of the game at 11:53 of the second overtime to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-3 win over the Capitals on Saturday night at Verizon Center. With the victory, the Leafs have evened the best-of-seven series at 1-1 and have snatched the home ice advantage away from Washington.
Game 3 is in Toronto on Monday night.
"You've got to have a little bit of a short-term memory," says Caps coach Barry Trotz. "That's what the playoffs are about. Both sides had great chances to end it early, but we're in one. We're playing a very good team on the other side, and they're battling. They want it very bad, and we want it too."
Video: Trotz talks after a 4-3 double OT loss in Game 2
After Washington was guilty of icing the puck, Kapanen bested Evgeny Kuznetsov on the ensuing face-off when linemate Brian Boyle was kicked out of the circle. Soon after, Matt Martin and Boyle teamed up to win the puck down low on the left side. Boyle carried behind the cage, then, with his back to the net, sent a nifty backhand feed to Kapanen, who crept between Caps defenders Karl Alzner and John Carlson at the bottom of the left circle. Holtby was still leaning Boyle's way, and Carlson was without his stick, giving Kapanen all the net he needed to bag the winner.
"Boyle was going behind the net," recounts Holtby. "He's got one of those long reaches. I didn't see anyone coming out from behind, so I assumed he was either going to wrap or put it to that [defenseman] coming down. I see after that John obviously lost his stick. It's just a tough break, and we're going to move on."
Video: Maple Leafs players talk after a double overtime win
"All the credit has to go to Marty and Boyle there for working hard in the corner," says Kapanen. "One of their [defensemen] lost his stick there and I was yelling for it. Boyle made an amazing pass and I put it in an empty net."
Hours earlier, Kapanen's first career playoff goal tied the game for the Maple Leafs. His second one halted the most wildly entertaining game we've seen early in any of the eight first-round series.
"It was a big win for our team," says Leafs coach Mike Babcock. "You go down two [games], and then you've got to win four out of five. This now sets us up to go home. We're going to get better and better in the series as our confidence grows and we get used to it."
Video: Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock on the 2OT win
Seeking a better start than in Thursday's Game 1 when they found themselves down two goals before the first frame was halfway over, the Caps went on an early power play when Tom Wilson drew a cross-checking penalty on the Leafs' Jake Gardiner on the game's first shift. Washington's power play produced a couple of shots and good scoring chances, but no red light.
The Caps generated more good looks toward the middle of the period, and they held the Leafs without as much as a shot on net for the first nine minutes of the contest.
But for the second straight game, Toronto broke the seal on the scoresheet, doing so at the end of a good offensive zone shift late in the first frame. Tyler Bozak showed some strength down low to win the puck below the Washington goal line, and Jake Gardiner made an assertive play at the blueline to spin off his check and walk down to the slot. Matt Niskanen managed to pokecheck him there, but the puck went right to James van Riemsdyk, who fired it home from the left hash mark at 17:34.
Video: WSH Recap: Caps defeated in double OT in Game 2
While the officials generally let the boys play in Game 1, they made sure the whistles were heard more than the free cowbells the Caps distributed to fans ahead of Game 2. By the end of the first, it was pretty clear that players were going to have to tread lightly to stay out of the box.
That didn't stop Leafs blueliner Martin Marincin from taking a two-handed whack at Lars Eller away from the puck, a transgression that put Washington on the power play early in the second. Fifteen seconds later, the Caps tied the game.
T.J. Oshie made a good feed from below the Leafs' goal line on the right side to Alex Ovechkin, who beat Toronto netminder Frederik Andersen from his left dot office at 3:47.
Video: TOR@WSH, Gm2: Ovechkin fires in PPG from the circle
That was as good as it got for the Capitals for a while. The Leafs thoroughly took it to Washington for the next five-plus minutes, outshooting them 6-0 and out-attempting them 12-1. That dominant sequence came to a halt only when ex-Cap Connor Carrick hauled down Washington winger Daniel Winnik on one of the Caps' rare forays into Toronto ice.
Washington's execution on the ensuing power play was subpar, until there were nine seconds left in Carrick's sentence. That's when Carlson threw a right point bomb behind Andersen to lift the Caps to a 2-1 lead at 11:06. The goal came on Washington's first shot on net since Ovechkin's goal more than seven minutes earlier.
Video: TOR@WSH, Gm2: Carlson buries a blistering PPG
Just over three minutes later, the Leafs responded. The Caps left Kapanen with too much time and space in front, and Boyle and Martin did the necessary wall work and got the puck to him. Kapanen beat Holtby with a backhander from in tight at 14:25, but Washington issued its coach's video challenge, alleging the play was offside.
The subsequent review showed that the play was very close, close enough to compel a challenge, but the goal was upheld and the game was square at 2-2 late in the second.
Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov hauled Bozak down behind the Washington net with 31.6 seconds left in the second, putting the Leafs on their fourth power play of the night. Toronto needed only a few seconds of the minor with which to regain the lead; Morgan Rielly floated a wrist shot through heavy traffic that found purchase behind Holtby, leaving the Leafs up 3-2 at 19:46 of the second.
Having lost defenseman Roman Polak - who left the game late in the second period after landing awkwardly following a Brooks Orpik bodycheck - the Leafs were down to five blueliners as the third period got underway.
An absolutely dominant offensive zone shift enabled Washington to even the game at 3-3 at the 12:39 mark of the third. Eller started the shift with some beastly work at holding onto and protecting the puck, and the Caps were able to get a full personnel change without losing possession in the Toronto zone. Orlov did some excellent work to keep the puck in at the left point, and he kept control while walking the line to the middle of the ice. From there, he fired a slap pass down low on the left side, and Nicklas Backstrom deposited it behind Andersen to make it a 3-3 game at 12:39 of the third.
Video: TOR@WSH, Gm2: Backstrom slams home deflected puck
Both teams had excellent chances to win it late in regulation, but Holtby denied Zach Hyman with about three minutes left and Andersen thwarted both Ovechkin and Andre Burakovsky in the penultimate minute of regulation.
Eller nearly won it for Washington early in the first overtime; Carlson tried to feed Eller at the top of the paint but van Riemsdyk effectively tied up Eller's stick, preventing him from pulling the trigger.
Washington had another chance to win it on a power play when Boyle was boxed for tripping Kuznetsov, but Backstrom didn't get enough of his one-time bid from the right dot. Holtby had to stop Hyman on a shorthanded semi-breakaway just before Boyle exited the box, too.
Video: ALL CAPS | April 15
Andersen stopped Backstrom with six and a half minutes remaining after Wilson made a strong wall play to set up the chance at the end of his shift. Brett Connolly had two good chances from in tight on the same shift, but the puck wouldn't settle for him.
The Leafs got a power play opportunity late in the first overtime when Holtby was penalized for a slash on Nazem Kadri. Washington weathered those two minutes, then nearly won the game again when Ovechkin - serving Holtby's penalty - came out of the box and had a breakaway with less than a minute left. But Andersen got that one, too, sending the two sides back to their respective rooms for another intermission.
"To be honest with you, I just tried to use my body to protect the puck," says Ovechkin. "I make a bad decision and go from my forehand to my backhand. That's the game. The second time, maybe it's going to be different."
Video: Caps players talk after a double overtime loss
Holtby made stops on William Nylander and Auston Matthews in the second overtime, and Toronto endured a couple of good shifts from the Kuznetsov line. The second of those forced Babcock to call his timeout with 10:12 left in the second extra session.
Just over two minutes of playing time later, it was all over.
"We did enough things to win the game today," says Eller. "I think we were right there a lot of the time. We did all the right things, it just didn't bounce our way.
"I'm confident that we can win the next one in Toronto. No doubt."