The Maple Leafs dropped a 3-2 decision to the Washington Capitals on Thursday night. It was the team’s first home loss since January 20 and the team’s third straight non-winning result overall.
- Andreas Johnsson generated ten shots on goal and had a tap-in for his 16th goal of the season, capitalizing on a rebound after Auston Matthews’s wraparound attempt.
- John Tavares netted his 34th goal of the year with goaltender Frederik Andersen on the bench for a sixth skater.
- William Nylander was slotted into the third line centre spot in place of Nazem Kadri, who missed the game due to concussion-like symptoms. Although he didn’t get on the scoresheet, Nylander had five shots on goal. This column has placed him in the “ugly” portion several times between December and early February, so we’ll give credit where it’s due.
- The game’s first goal was scored by none other than the most dangerous Capitals player on the ice, Alex Ovechkin. His power play marker was the 39th goal and 68th point scored versus Toronto in 48 career games. Ovechkin fired a laser from just inside the right point to beat Frederik Andersen to the far side, top corner. At such a distance, the shot should be stoppable, but we’ll be lenient in our criticism of Andersen because, Ovi.
- John Tavares said of Ovechkin “He’s probably the most dangerous player over the past ten or twenty years on the power play.”
- An entertaining sequence in the first period ended with a bit of bad luck for the Leafs. Just a split-second after Braden Holtby stopped Patrick Marleau on a two-on-one, Auston Matthews pounced on the rebound, and hit the crossbar.
- Once again the Leafs didn’t put up much of a fight in terms of payback when their opponents upped the physical ante. Jake Gardiner was knocked off the puck quite easily by Tom Wilson, and with no support in the defensive zone, the Leafs gave up a goal to Brett Connolly.
- Adding insult to injury, Wilson scored the eventual game-winner on a shorthanded two-on-one after he got ahead of Johnsson. Wilson is the type of player that all of the Capitals’ opponents despise. But his prototype is exactly what the Leafs are lacking up front.
In 2016, Rob wrote “Hockey’s Enforcers: A Dying Breed”, now available at Chapters and Indigo stores everywhere.