Coming off a 5-2 win over the Ducks, Leafs had some momentum entering this game. However, a third period rally fell short when Matt Hendricks scored on a breakaway on route to a 4-1 win for the Caps.
After falling behind 2-0 to a pair of Alex Ovechkin goals, Leafs were back in it thanks to Tim Brent's goal in the third. But a turnover at the opposition blue line allowed Hendricks to beat J.S. Giguere, making it 3-1. Later in the night Ovechkin completed his hat-trick on an empty net.
Shots by the Leafs - 19 of them coming int he third period. Caps had 31 shots.
Blocked shots by the Capitals. Leafs had 10.
Ice time for Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, notching one assist.
Capitals outhit the Leafs on the night.
In addition to his goal, Tim Brent won 5/7 faceoffs.
At the start of the game some might have said "Braden who?" when looking at the Caps starting lineup. Not anymore.
Braden Holtby made 35 saves for the Caps, including 18 in the third period to limit the Leafs' comeback. Tyler Bozak in particular was victimized by the 21-year old netminder on multiple tries. To give an idea of how impressive Holtby was, Ovechkin's hat-trick wasn't enough to keep the Lloydminster, SK native from being the game's first star.
On any other night Bozak might have matched Ovechkin's hat-trick, but Holtby was just simply unforgiving Saturday evening, making three point blank stops on the hard working centre - one each period.
Nearly matching Bozak's contribution, Colby Armstrong also had a strong game for the Leafs. In the second period he put a good hit on Ovechkin along the glass to get fans out of their seats when the Leafs desperately needed a spark. Armstrong had four shots.
When a new NHL schedule gets released, Ovechkin likely circles the dates against the Leafs with a thick red marker. In 22 games against Toronto, the Caps captain has 22 goals, 38 points and a +11 rating.
On the Leafs side, it was Mike Brown's first game since serving a three-game suspension. The pugilist, in 8:34 of ice time picked up a fighting major, a shot on goal, registered four hits, finished with a +1 rating on Brent's goal and late in the game skated on the top line.
Ron Wilson remarking on the Leafs many chances that went begging due to the excellent work of Holtby:
"Well, their goalie made some unbelievable saves. (It's not) a lack of finish; our best goal scorer has an empty net, the puck rolls, it goes off the post ... then all the chances in the third, including Bozak - (Holtby) robbed him with a great glove save. These guys have finished before, you gotta credit the other team's goalie, he played great."
Monday, January 24 vs. Carolina Hurricanes 7 PM ET (SNET-O, AM640)
Game Notes: After three games in four nights, the Leafs get a break Sunday but are back on the road for a two-game swing starting Monday night.
Most playoff teams in the Eastern Conference are looking over their shoulder at the surging Hurricanes, who are threatening to break in to the top eight.