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Five Takeaways - Leafs at Capitals - 10/17/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 2-0 win over the Washington Capitals Tuesday at Capital One Arena:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs,com

1. Leafs dictate play for majority of first, but neither side scores in first 20 minutes. The Leafs jumped on the puck to begin Tuesday's contest and had a number of golden scoring opportunities in the opening period, but couldn't convert any of them into goals; meanwhile, the Capitals did have a couple of offensive opportunities themselves, but Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen stopped all seven shots he saw prior to the first intermission. Neither side was as good in terms of limiting chances as they'd have liked to be, but both Andersen and counterpart Braden Holtby entered the second frame as they began the first - with a shutout intact - and prevented their opponent from building momentum in the early stages of the game. 
                                                                                               

2. Second period much like first: no score, same amount of shots for each side. The Capitals and Leafs entered the game with, respectively, the NHL's fourth and first-overall offences - so the last thing people expected to see was a scoreless tie after one period, let alone two. But that was the scoreboard result at the end of the second frame, and, just as they did in the first, both the Caps and Buds had the same number of shots in the period (10 apiece, after both registering seven in the first). And yet again, the score wasn't indicative of a defensive masterpiece: each squad had chances to get the first goal of the night, but couldn't finish.

Video: TOR@WSH: Brown puts home rebound to open the scoring

3. Brown does dirty work in front of Caps' net, puts Leafs ahead on game's first goal. Winger Connor Brown had a change of linemates for this game - skating alongside centre Tyler Bozak and winger James van Riemsdyk - and Brown took advantage of the situation, planting himself in front of Holtby early in the third period and pushing the puck through Holtby's legs for his second goal of the season at the 5:53 mark. It wasn't the prettiest goal Brown has ever scored, but the 23-year-old hasn't endeared himself to head coach Mike Babcock because of fancy moves - it's his relentless work ethic and willingness to play in the tougher areas of the ice that have done so.

Blueliner Morgan Rielly got the lone assist on Brown's goal, which gave the Leafs a sliver of breathing room for the final 14 minutes of regulation time. And if Brown wanted to make a good first impression with his new linemates, he did just that.

Video: TOR@WSH: Andersen stands tall for two quick saves

4. Andersen has best game of season, keeps high-octane Washington offence off scoresheet. Andersen put in yeoman's work in this game, especially after Brown's goal: the Capitals turned up the heat as the third period went on, and was structurally solid throughout the night, getting great body position on opposition shooters and snuffing out follow-up chances for the home side whenever Washington's attack got frenetic. He looked particularly focused when Caps coach Barry Trotz pulled Holtby with two minutes remaining in favour of the extra skater, and wound up turning aside all 30 shots he saw to record his 11th career NHL shutout and his fifth as a Leaf.

On a night when Toronto's offence didn't generate a boatload of goals, they needed Andersen to come up with a terrific showing against a high-powered Capitals team. That's exactly what they got, and the Leafs registered their fifth win of the season in large part thanks to their netminder.

Video: TOR@WSH: Kadri pots an empty-netter to seal win

5. Kadri comes through with insurance marker, secures win for Leafs in first of first back-to-back games of season. The Capitals pressured the Buds with the extra man in the final two minutes of regulation time, but Toronto's defenders did well to keep most of the play to the outside - winger Patrick Marleau did a great job of battling for the puck along the wall near the Leafs' bench - and with 21.1 seconds left, centre Nazem Kadri snuck past Washington star winger Alex Ovechkin and scored into the empty net for his third of the season and to secure the victory for the visitors.

With the win, the Leafs head back home to take on the Detroit Red Wings at Air Canada Centre Wednesday. It will be Toronto's first series of games on consecutive nights this season, and given that the Wings are 4-2-0 (including a 3-1-0 road record), the Leafs will need to be sharp and prepared to fight puck battles as hard as they did in Washington.
 

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