Maple Leafs' rookie trio just too much to handle for tired Capitals

Hazel Gray
April 27, 2017

Outplayed for the first half of the game on Monday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs rallied for an improbable 4-3 overtime win over the top-seeded Washington Capitals, with Tyler Bozak scoring the victor on a power play 1:37 into the extra session.

Yielding two power-play goals in Game 2, the unit stood tall again a short while later when the club was called for too many men.

Pressure has been a topic with the Capitals due to their recent playoff failures.

It might well happen that after the Washington Capitals win the Stanley Cup, they'll look back and smirk.

After Washington upped its lead back to two on a goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov, Toronto required a yeoman's effort from its penalty kill.

The Maple Leafs scored the final two goals of the second period to send the game to the third period tied at 3. The Leafs employed four defenders for much of the night with Martin Marincin clocking in at 27 minutes and Matt Hunwick logging 35 minutes of his own.

The trio, which Babcock grew to both love and hate, was devastating in the Leafs' 4-3 overtime win Monday night in Game 3 of their first-round series with Washington. We were a little stagnant. Only five players are left from the last Toronto playoff team that made the playoffs and lost to the Boston Bruins: forwards Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk and Leo Komarov and defenseman Jake Gardiner. It was the first time Washington was the first team to score. They're a better line for us because we've got [Kadri] and we've got [Bozak].

"Make sure you get your nap in and prepare the same way and if you play, you play, if you don't, you get your workout in", Schmidt said. "We're staying positive and we know it's a new game coming up Monday, so we've got to regroup here and look forward". "But the way we've been playing - and I think we can be better in certain areas - we're going to give them a run for their money".

At the top of that list of concerns lies the Maple Leafs' top line. What hurts them even more in the playoffs was the loss of towering workhorse Roman Polak. He banged knees with Capitals defenceman Brooks Orpik late in the second period then landed awkwardly on his right leg. Most teams that play three consecutive playoff overtime games would be expected to start slowing down.

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Babcock insisted during the regular season that the trio, and the rest from a historic rookie class, were just good players - young or not.

"He's obviously had a lot of experience, especially in these situations". With those kind of players and that kind of talent out there that's hard to do.

And it seems what most pundits, who nearly unanimously picked the Caps, didn't account for before the series started was the Leafs' youngsters matching the Capitals stars stride for stride.

"I just think each game in the series you have to elevate your play and you have to get better on each off-day if you're going to have success the next game", Babcock added. Will tonight's game go into overtime as the others before it have? "They're used to it so it doesn't faze them and you can see that when they're out there playing".

"It's been insane for them, but this is where you want to be", said Leo Komarov of the rookies.

"But I'll tell you what". If Andersen can keep up what he's doing Toronto can actually make it quite far in this year's playoffs, because in all reality they have gotten the better of every single team in the East this season at some point. However, expect more traffic in front of the net. He didn't want to do that; we didn't want to do that with him.

"It's not over yet", said Alex Ovechkin. This was the 11th game decided in overtime through the first 22 of the playoffs.

"As far as the minutes go, we'll be fine", Rielly said. They've got a good attitude, they like to laugh, and they don't mind a good tightening once in a while to get them back on track.

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