Maple Leafs even series with 2 OT win over Washington Capitals

By Harvey Valentine, The Sports Xchange  |  April 16, 2017 at 9:46 AM
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WASHINGTON -- The underdog Toronto Maple Leafs are going home all even in their best-of-seven series against the Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals.

Kasperi Kapanen scored his second goal of the game at 11:53 of the second overtime and the Maple Leafs defeated the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday night to level their series at one game apiece.

"The team played really well today," Kapanen said. "We deserved to win."

Game 3 is Monday night in Toronto.

After losing the series opener early in overtime, Game 2 was extended until Toronto's Brian Boyle, skating behind the net, backhanded a pass behind him out to Kapanen, who beat Braden Holtby to the short side as the goaltender tried to get back.

"All the credit has to go to (Matt Martin) and (Boyle) there," Kapanen said. "I think one of their D-men lost their stick. Boyle made an amazing pass and I put it in an empty net."

The game featured feats of endurance by Toronto's defensive corps, which lost Roman Polak for the game and the remainder of the season when he was injured on a Brooks Orpik hit in the second period.

Jake Gardiner logged 40 minutes 42 seconds, Morgan Rielly totaled 40:12 and Matt Hunwick played 35:19.

"We'll be fine," Rielly said. "We've got young legs."

Toronto had wanted to make Washington feel the weight of past playoff failures and maybe it has. The Capitals, who have not advanced past the conference semifinals since 1997-98, have surrendered the home-ice advantage.

"We've been chasing this series a little bit," Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said. "It's been a little bit of an uphill battle. It's been a test, but we're going to Toronto. We're going to see if we can do what they did to us."

Trailing 3-2, Washington tied it with 7:21 left in regulation. After keeping the puck in the Toronto zone for over a minute, the Capitals scored when Dmitry Orlov passed to Nicklas Backstrom to the right of Frederik Andersen and Backstrom slid the puck by the sprawling goaltender.

Andersen (47 saves) stopped Alex Ovechkin on a breakaway in the final minute of the first overtime.

"He was outstanding in Game 1 and obviously he was no slouch tonight," Rielly said of Andersen.

James van Riemsdyk and Rielly also scored for Toronto. Boyle and Martin each had two assists.

Ovechkin and John Carlson added goals for Washington. Holtby made 47 saves.

"It's OK. Nobody said we we're going to win (four games to none)," Ovechkin said. "It's a battle. They're a good team."

The Capitals wanted to get off to a better start in Game 2 and they did, controlling play throughout the first half of the first period. The Maple Leafs didn't get a puck on net until midway through the period.

The game was scoreless until Jake Gardiner stick-handled past one defender and into the slot before the puck came loose. It went right to Van Riemsdyk and he wristed a high shot past Holtby from the slot with 2:26 left in the period.

The Capitals pulled ahead with two power-play goals in the second period.

First, Ovechkin beat Andersen with a wrister from his usual spot in the left circle off a pass from T.J. Oshie at 3:47. Then Carlson fired through a screen from just beyond the right circle at 11:06 and Washington was playing with the lead for the first time in the series.

It didn't last long. Shortly after Polak left the game, Martin's centering pass deflected off a skate and right to Kapanen, who backhanded a shot through Holtby's pads to tie it at 14:25.

"I thought we had a little lull after the injury to Polak," Trotz said.

The Maple Leafs failed on their first four power-play chances in the series, but the fifth time was the charm. With Orlov off for tripping, Rielly fired a wrister through a screen and the puck found the top left corner to give Toronto a 3-2 lead with 30 seconds left in the second period.

NOTES: Toronto D Roman Polak suffered a lower-body injury and was helped off the ice after a second-period hit by D Brooks Orpik. Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said that if D Nikita Zaitsev, who is out with an upper-body injury but skated Saturday, can't go, then D Alexey Marchenko will be in the lineup. ... With his goal, Toronto's James van Riemsdyk has 14 career playoff goals, second most among active Leafs behind Brian Boyle (15). ... Alex Ovechkin (14) passed Peter Bondra (13) for first place on the Capitals' playoff power-play goals list. ... Maple Leafs D Nikita Zaitsev (upper body injury) took part in the morning skate, but was again a scratch. ... With his assist, Washington's Justin Williams has eight points (three goals, five assists) in eight career playoff games versus Toronto.

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