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Five Takeaways - Leafs at Capitals - 04/15/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 4-3 double-overtime win over the Washington Capitals in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series Saturday at Verizon Center:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

van Riemsdyk snipes opening goal

TOR@WSH, Gm2: van Riemsdyk roofs top-shelf wrister

R1, Gm2: James van Riemsdyk picks up a loose puck in the slot and fires it over Braden Holtby's glove to open the scoring late in the 1st

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1. Leafs need half a period to unwind, but van Riemsdyk's goal puts them up as of the first intermission. Toronto built up a 2-0 lead in Game 1 of the series, but ultimately fell 3-2 to the Caps in overtime. But where the Leafs quickly established a lead in Thursday's game, Washington was constantly in their zone and they needed the first 10 minutes of the opening period in Game 2 to get their first shot on Washington netminder Brayden Holtby.

However, Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen turned aside all eight shots he saw in the period, and after the halfway mark of the frame, Toronto found its stride and became more aggressive and engaged until the period ended. They also took the first lead of the night when winger James van Riemsdyk finished off a dazzling offensive zone pressure sequence by blueliner Jake Gardiner and made it 1-0 for the visitors at 17:34.

The Leafs had three power play opportunities in the first 20 minutes of action and thus were looking at a golden chance to increase their lead, but Holtby was solid in stopping 10 of 11 shots Toronto generated in the final 10 minutes of the frame to keep the score at 1-0 entering the second.

2. Caps tie game, take lead on pair of power play goals early in second period. The Leafs may have had three man advantages in the first, but they also gave the Capitals two power plays of their own in the opening frame. But despite Andersen and the penalty kill unit shining in preventing Washington from scoring, Toronto's group gave them even more chances in the second: the Leafs were called for the first three penalties of the middle period - and the Caps made them pay in the first two power plays, tying the score at the 3:47 mark on Alex Ovechkin's first goal of the playoffs and taking the lead at 11:06 via blueliner John Carlson's goal.

The Capitals had a power play marker in their 3-2 Game 1 win, and special teams play became a factor in Saturday's contest. Discipline matters no matter what NHL playoff team you're talking about, and the Leafs simply spent far too much time with four skaters on the ice in the first 40 minutes. 

Video: TOR@WSH, Gm2: Rielly scores PPG through traffic

3. Toronto storms ahead late in middle frame on goals from Kapanen and Rielly. The Caps' first lead of the series lasted 3:19, as rookie winger Kasperi Kapanen scored his first NHL playoff goal (and just the second NHL goal of his fledgling career) at 14:25 of the second. And after defenceman Dmitry Orlov was called for tripping centre Tyler Bozak with 31.6 left before the second intermission, D-man Morgan Rielly fired a shot from the point that went through traffic and past Holtby at the 19:46 mark to make it 3-2 for the Leafs entering the third period.

The power play was the fourth of the game for Toronto, and getting production was crucial against a Washington squad that spent large portions of time in the Leafs' end.
 
4. Failure to clear zone results in tying marker for Caps in third, game goes to OT for second time in series. Washington began the third period with a vigorous attack that hemmed the Leafs into their zone and generated multiple shots at Andersen. Toronto had more than a few chances to clear the zone, but never succeeded, and Capitals centre Nicklas Backstrom eventually scored the tying goal with 7:21 left in regulation.

However, despite Washington outshooting the Buds 14-8 in the third, Andersen shone in stopping the rest of the Capitals' attempts. Toronto had a few close calls near Holtby, but neither side could produce the game-winner in the third, and overtime was required for the second time in the series.

Video: TOR@WSH, Gm2: Kapanen tallies winner in double OT
 
5. One OT period isn't enough to solve this one - and in double-OT, Kapanen scores game-winner to even series at a game apiece. The first overtime period saw the Leafs outshoot the Capitals 13-10 to pull even in shots (44-44) with Washington through 80 minutes of play and both sides got their fifth power play of the game, but both Andersen and Holtby were terrific for their side, and the teams headed back to their dressing rooms to prepare for double-OT.

In the second overtime frame, both sides had some quality chances to end the game, but it took another 11:53 of action before it ended - and not in a way that pleased Capitals fans: centre Brian Boyle took the puck from Washington's end zone to Holtby's right hand side and skated behind the net towards Holtby's left, only to push jt out toward the front of the net; the puck bounced off the side of the net and directly onto the stick of winger Kasperi Kapanen, who fired it into an open Caps net to give Toronto the victory and even their series at one game apiece.

Toronto now heads home to prepare for Games 3 and 4 at Air Canada Centre Monday and Wednesday, and the Leafs do so as a confident group that is taking on the NHL's best regular-season team and making the Capitals earn everything they're getting. The Buds' resilience will need to continue for them to move on to the second round, but for the moment, at least, they can take pride in the fact they're far from a pushover and are giving Washington everything they can handle - and on this night, even more.

 

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