NHL Playoffs: Justin Williams' OT goal gives Capitals Game 5 win over Maple Leafs

NHL Playoffs: Justin Williams' OT goal gives Capitals Game 5 win over Maple Leafs

WASHINGTON -- Justin Williams scored the overtime winner as the Washington Capitals beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 Friday night in Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round series.

The Capitals survived a scare when captain Alex Ovechkin left the game late in the first period with an apparent left leg injury, but he returned in the second. Thanks to Williams' goal 1:04 into overtime, the Presidents' Trophy winners go to Toronto for Game 6 on Sunday with a chance to advance to face the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round.

Braden Holtby made 24 saves for the Capitals, who got a goal from T.J. Oshie on the power play that came from Nazem Kadri's hit that injured Ovechkin.

Rookie of the year finalist Auston Matthews scored the only goal for the Maple Leafs, and Frederik Andersen made 26 saves before being beaten in overtime.

Williams' goal was his third of the series. It's also the 16th of his career in 43 tries in Games 5-7 as his team improved to 26-18 in those situations.

Four of the first five games of the series have been decided in overtime. What looked lopsided on paper going in has been as tight as anyone could have possibly imagined with the teams separated by one goal in the series (16-15 Capitals) and tied in shots (175 apiece).

As if this tense series didn't provide enough drama, the Ovechkin injury silenced Verizon Center 17:32 in. Ovechkin clutched his left knee, was down on the ice for several minutes and didn't put weight on his left leg as he was helped off (see full recap).

Kuraly's 2nd goal of game lifts Bruins past Senators in 2OT
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Sean Kuraly's second goal of the game at 10:19 of the second overtime gave the Boston Bruins a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 on Friday night, avoiding elimination in the first-round series.

David Pastrnak also scored and Tuukka Rask finished with 41 saves to help the Bruins rally from two goals down early in the second period and cut the Senators' lead to 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

Game 6 is Sunday in Boston.

Mark Stone and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored for the Senators, and Craig Anderson stopped 36 shots.

The Bruins had the best chances to end the game in the first overtime.

Boston failed to capitalize on a power play when Clarke MacArthur was called for high sticking and then had Noel Acciari's apparent goal waved off at 14:25 due to goalie interference. The Bruins challenged the call to no avail (see full recap).

Breaking down why Flyers traded Cooper Marody

Michigan Athletics

Breaking down why Flyers traded Cooper Marody

The Flyers on Wednesday traded NCAA prospect Cooper Marody’s rights to the Edmonton Oilers for a 2019 third-round draft pick that originally belonged to the New Jersey Devils.

Marody enjoyed a breakout junior season at Michigan University in 2017-18. The 21-year-old led the Wolverines with 32 assists, 46 points and 1.24 points per game.

His 32 assists were tied for third-most in the nation, while his 46 points were tied for ninth most. He made the Big Ten All-Tournament team and was the Big Ten scoring champion.

Let’s make sense of why the Flyers moved Marody and why it’s a good return.

One, he was a 2015 sixth-round draft pick with little NHL upside. Essentially, this boils down to a sixth-round pick netting you a third-rounder, which has a higher probability of hitting.

Two, the Flyers’ pipeline is loaded with forwards, and the book on Marody doesn’t project him to be a top-six forward. Think of him as a solid AHL player with bottom-six NHL potential.

Three, the contract limit. The Flyers are currently at 47 contracts, three under the limit. Sure, four players are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this summer with four more hitting restricted free agency. They could easily fit Marody under the contract limit but it goes back to No. 2.

Another potential factor is the 2019 third-rounder the Flyers owe the Red Wings if they make the playoffs since Petr Mrazek has won five games already with the team. They now have a third-rounder in that draft.

Any way we slice it, the Flyers turned a sixth-rounder into a third-rounder. If Marody proves the Flyers wrong, so be it. If not, it's no big deal. The chances of winning this trade are higher than losing it.

Why Flyers should ride Alex Lyon, not Petr Mrazek

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Why Flyers should ride Alex Lyon, not Petr Mrazek

When the Flyers acquired Petr Mrazek from Detroit out of necessity in February, Ron Hextall explained the trade as a reward for his players’ hard work.

“We’re in a tough situation — you lose your top two goalies when you’re fighting for a playoff spot,” Hextall said then, “and our players have worked hard for a long time now. I didn’t feel like it was fair to not have a proven NHL goaltender for this team.”

One month later, Mrazek has been erratic, and the Flyers’ grip on a playoff spot is loosening. With eight games remaining, Dave Hakstol owes it to his players to ride the steadier goalie, and that's not the proven NHL goaltender.

For the second time in six days, Hakstol was forced to pull Mrazek on Tuesday night, and for the second time in six days, Alex Lyon battled in relief, giving the Flyers a chance in a game they otherwise had no business being in.

Lyon stopped 11 of 12 shots Tuesday, holding off a determined Red Wings team and allowing the Flyers to fight back from a 3-1 deficit and force overtime. They lost, 5-4, in a shootout, but the point was huge.

We’re tired of hearing that too. But at this stage, and with how the Flyers have played in March, any point is needed. The goal is the playoffs, and right now, the Flyers cannot trust Mrazek.

What we’ve seen from Mrazek in his short time here explains why the Red Wings soured on him.

Mrazek showed glimpses of his potential in his first three starts as a Flyer, but since, he’s been inconsistent and unreliable.

In his last nine games, Mrazek’s 2-5-1 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .865 save percentage. He's allowed fewer than three goals just once. There have been far too many bad goals along the way too.

Last Thursday, Mrazek was pulled after yielding his fourth goal against the Blue Jackets, a team the Flyers are jockeying with for playoff position in the Metropolitan Division.

That relief appearance earned Lyon the start Saturday in Carolina, where he was again steady. Hakstol went back to Mrazek on Sunday and then again Tuesday.

Now, it’s time to ride Lyon until the rookie shows wear on his tires and until either Brian Elliott or Michal Neuvirth is healthy enough to return, which likely will not be until closer to the final week of the season.

Lyon has not looked out of place since his second call-up of the season Feb. 11. In six games — three starts — he has a .933 save percentage.

The 25-year-old passes both the numbers and eye test, and it’s time to show faith in him.

After Tuesday’s loss, the Flyers dropped to the top wild-card spot, with Columbus leapfrogging them to third in the Metro. Both teams have eight games left. The Flyers are four points ahead of the Devils, who have one game in hand.

Then, there are the Panthers, five points behind the Flyers with three games in hand. Per Hockey-Reference, the Flyers have an 88.8 percent chance at the postseason.

We’ve seen crazier collapses happen, though. When March began, the Flyers were one point behind the first-place Capitals. They’ve picked up just eight of a possible 22 points this month.

At this point, it’s about surviving, and Lyon gives the Flyers a better shot to stay above the line than Mrazek.