Washington Capitals come back to beat Toronto Maple Leafs on Tom Wilson's OT winner

By Harvey Valentine, The Sports Xchange  |  April 14, 2017 at 9:55 AM
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WASHINGTON -- Playing hockey as a kid in Toronto, Tom Wilson often imagined what it would be like to score a game-winning goal in the playoffs.

The Washington Capitals winger probably did not imagine the Toronto Maple Leafs as the opponent.

Wilson scored 5:15 into overtime to lift the Capitals to a come-from-behind, 3-2 win over the stubborn Maple Leafs on Thursday in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

"You live this moment, and you dream when you're a young kid in the backyard or whatever, when you're 8, 9 or 10 years old," Wilson said.

Wilson stopped a clearing attempt in the Toronto zone, moved into the right circle and fired high past Frederik Andersen for his first career playoff goal.

"I don't know who was behind me. Maybe (teammate Kevin Shattenkirk) or someone was calling for the puck," Wilson said. "Quick turnover, I decided I was just gonna rip it on net. No bad shots in overtime, and it found the back of the net."

Washington's Justin Williams scored goals in the first and second periods, his fourth career postseason multi-goal game, and Braden Holtby stopped 35 shots for the Presidents' Trophy winners.

The Capitals won the opener despite a poor start.

"It's hard to say what was up there," Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin said. "Maybe we (were) a little bit nervous, maybe kind of feel the pressure a little bit."

Added Washington coach Barry Trotz: "We turned some pucks over. We gave them easy access to the puck, I thought, for the first 30 minutes. The last 30 minutes I thought was a little better."

The Maple Leafs took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals by rookie Mitchell Marner and Jake Gardiner. Toronto coach Mike Babcock called the game a "confidence-builder," but didn't love everything he saw.

"Didn't like that we wouldn't shoot the puck," Babcock said. "We had so many opportunities to shoot and ended passing instead of shooting on the net."

Andersen, who made a pair of spectacular stops shortly before Wilson's game-winner, finished with 41 saves.

"I thought Freddie was really good, and then he'd probably like to have that (last one) back," Babcock said.

Both goalies made big saves in the scoreless third period to maintain the 2-2 tie.

First, Holtby stopped Marner after the center created an opening in front, and then with 3:29 left, Andersen gloved Marcus Johansson's redirect attempt.

In the playoffs for the first time since 2013, Toronto took a quick 1-0 lead.

Holtby went to his right to make a save on James van Riemsdyk on the rush. Van Riemsdyk sent the rebound toward the net, and it caromed off the post out to Marner, who banged it home at 1:35.

Toronto's second goal, an unassisted tally by Gardiner from the slot at 9:44, was initially waved off due to goaltender's interference on Nazem Kadri. Babcock challenged the call, and after a review, the goal was allowed.

"It's a tough way to start the playoffs, but they came back and took it to us," Gardiner said of Washington's early troubles.

Back-to-back penalties on Toronto's Brian Boyle and Zach Hyman gave Washington a 90-second, five-on-three advantage midway through the first.

The Capitals caught a break just after Boyle's penalty ended when defenseman Shattenkirk's stick broke on his shot attempt. The puck skittered over to T.J. Oshie, who quickly passed in front to Williams for the tap-in that made it 2-1.

Toronto was on the verge of taking that 2-1 lead into the third period, but when Andersen made a save on Matt Niskanen and lost sight of the puck in front of him, Williams swooped in and banged it home for his second goal with 4:00 left in the second.

"I saw that he wasn't aware of where it was," Williams said. "I just went to the net, and fortunately it popped there."

Game 2 is set for Saturday night.

NOTES: Toronto played without D Nikita Zaitsev, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. ... C Mitchell Marner became the first Maple Leafs rookie to score a playoff goal since Jeff Farkas on May 6, 2000, vs. the New Jersey Devils. ... Washington D John Carlson was in the lineup after missing the last four regular-season games with a lower-body injury. D Taylor Chorney, D Nate Schmidt and C Paul Carey sat for the Capitals. ... D Martin Marincin was in the lineup in place of Zaitsev. Other Toronto scratches included D Alexey Marchenko, LW Josh Leivo and C Eric Fehr, who practiced for the first time since breaking a finger last month. ... Capitals F Justin Williams now has 35 career postseason goals. ... Washington D Kevin Shattenkirk's assist was the 25th of his career in the postseason.

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