Mr. Clutch strikes again, Leafs lose Game 5 in OT
April 21, 2017, 7:15 PM ET [805 Comments]
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10:11 pm - 1:04 into overtime, Justin Williams set up in the slot beats Andersen to give the Caps a 2-1 win and the 3-2 lead in the series. Niskanen's dumped it into the corner, Rielly lost the race and looked confused and Marcus Johansson set up Williams his third goal of the series.
2-1 final, Game 6 on Sunday
9:55 pm - Hope your hearts can take it folks, overtime #4 upcoming as the Leafs and Caps are tied 1-1 through regulation. Toronto should take a page from the Rangers and Oilers last night, as they pressed Montreal and San Jose in OT. The Leafs speed has created a number of opportunities tonight and they need to force Washington into an error.
9:40 pm - Jake Gardiner with a great chance from the slot, but is thwarted by Holtby, who has played his best game of the series. Nate Schmidt was allowed to cut in and get a great scoring chance on Andersen, but could not get it past the Leafs goalie.
9:22 pm - Leafs survive the Capitals PP and Tom Wilson returns to a familiar destination for an infraction on Marincin. Power play #4 for Toronto.
8:52 pm - Shots on goal 15-15 through 2, score tied 1-1. Capitals are starting to lose their cool. Ovechkin and Niskanen fixated on getting revenge for Kadri's hit, Niskanen takes a undisciplined slashing call.
Toronto's power play needs to capitalize or it will end up costing them the game.
8:38 pm - Leafs get their second power play of the period. The first one was not very effective.
8:26 pm - Matthews continues to score goals that are momentum changers in games. Washington seemed to be gaining control and the likely Calder Trophy winner buries a rebound past Holtby to tie it.
8:15 pm - Ovechkin returns and messes with Martin before puck drop and lays out Gardiner again with a big hit. This heightened level of aggressiveness benefits Washington, since the Leafs have only a few players (Komarov, Martin, Kadri) who can fight fire with fire.
7:50 pm - That was a pretty eventful few minutes. Kadri goes low on a hit to Ovechkin and clips his knee. Ovechkin clearly hampered and goes to the locker room. Kadri only gets a minor, but Washington capitalizes, as TJ Oshie opens the scoring.
7:45 pm - Wes McCauley with an emphatic 'no goal' call after video review of Andersen's glove save. Ovechkin with a good chance during the man advantage, shooting from his favorite spot, but fired it wide of the far post.
7:39 pm - Washington gets the first power play of the night. Ovechkin doing his 'bull in a china shop' routine, running over Jake Gardiner.
7:23 pm - Leafs and Caps much more tactical to start the game. Early of this games being more like 2-1 than 5-4. That would tend to favor Washington, with their experience and depth on defense.
7:12 pm - Same lineups for both clubs. Leafs get an early two-on-one, but Braden Holtby makes the stop on Leo Komarov. Will be interesting to see whether the Leafs will try to use their speed to put the Capitals on their heels, as they did in Game 1.
After the completion of Game 5 at the Verizon Center on Friday, either the Toronto Maple Leafs or Washington Capitals will be up 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, but based on the slim margin of each of the first four games, it is likely that whoever loses will not be without a good chance of stretching the opening round to a seventh and deciding game.
"I think if I would have told the guys at the start of the series that we're going to be in a best two-out-of-three, they would have done cartwheels." Leafs coach Mike Babcock said on Friday morning. "Teams are going home now (being eliminated from the playoffs), you can see. Pretty soon there's only going to be eight and if you want to be one of them. you dig in."
The Leafs did not do themselves any favors at Air Canada Centre earlier this week, falling behind 3-1 in Game 3 and 4-1 in Game 4 before staging comebacks, but Babcock indicated that his young squad was not ready to play against a desperate Washington team, trying to prevent falling behind 3-1 in the series.
Washington played with more energy and built up a bigger lead in Game 4, but they still proceeded to retreat into a defensive shell in the latter half of the game, in spite of that being a recipe for defeat in Game 3.
A win in Game 5 would give Toronto an advantage and the possibility of completing the upset at home on Sunday, but it does not mean it will be decisive. In 1993, the Leafs won Game 5 in their opening round series against Detroit on a Mike Foligno overtime goal, but with a chance to close things out, Toronto got hammered 7-3 at Maple Leaf Gardens, which forced Game 7 and made Nikolai Borchevsky famous.
Keep checking back throughout the game, as I will update and give my observations on Game 5.