NHL: Washington Capitals strike early, top Toronto Maple Leafs to tie series

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NHL: Washington Capitals strike early, top Toronto Maple Leafs to tie series

It was a rough night for the Maple Leafs' most important player, but when all was said and done, the goalie remained positive. The Capitals built a 4-1 first-period lead but the Maple Leafs never quit, a testament to the determination of this team led by youngsters. The few Toronto holdovers from that team and that time would have felt the deja vu. Washington killed off both penalties.

The Capitals could be without one of their top defenders, meanwhile, with Karl Alzner a game-time decision for Game 3. I thought he was real strong at the end as well.

The Leafs coach wasn't so dismayed by a Game 1 loss for the confidence it brought the group. There was also one fumbled exchange at the line, a problem all evening for the Leafs. A Morgan Rielly shot squeezed through the pads of Braden Holtby, but Wilson dove into the crease to clear the puck from the goal-line.

Caps coach Barry Trotz was crowing about the poise of Holtby and his PK unit, especially with the Leafs having the whole intermission to plot their course.

That sequence put an exclamation mark on the first 20 minutes.

The Caps said Alzner was day-to-day.

"We didn't come to compete from the beginning, that's obvious", Andersen said. "They were more competitive than us at the start". "It's not about hanging on and trying to squeak one out, it's about controlling the play and being in the driver's seat and going out there and winning the game". This was different. This was a missed opportunity to wrestle hold of a series that his group wasn't supposed to win.

Observers of the first-round series in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs between the Caps and Maple Leafs had been starting to wonder. The animosity level had been rising with Oshie and Komarov jawing at the bench as their lines continue to exact a toll on each other, then the fourth lines were unleashed.

The Caps didn't quite wilt after the Hyman goal.

On Wednesday morning, Leafs coach Mike Babcock had no trouble drawing a parallel between what could happen in Game 4 and what did happen in San Jose the night before.

Babcock wanted his team to be prepared for what the young Oilers, then leading their series 2-1, got from the veteran Sharks a night before. We talked about how the game was going to be today, but it didn't look like any of that sunk in.

The Capitals applied pressure in the Leafs' end from the opening shift of the game and when the horn sounded to end the first period, had tied a franchise record with four goals in one playoff period.

"When you don't score there, it's deflating a little", Oshie said.

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