With the score tied at 0 in the second period, the Caps had a chance to put the first goal on the board on their second power play of the night. Specifically, Evgeny Kuznetsov had a chance to score the first goal of the game and his first of the season. But with a golden opportunity on his stick, Kuznetsov waited too long to shoot the puck the opportunity was lost. It is an issue that has seemingly plagued Kuznetsov throughout his career and one that may have cost the Caps a chance at two points on Tuesday.
After a scrum in the left corner, the puck was fed over to John Carlson on the right near the blue line. With some room to work with, he advanced to the top of the right circle and then fired a pass cross-ice to Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov had set up shop in Alex Ovechkin’s office in the left faceoff circle and the Leafs evidently forgot about him.
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With the puck on his stick and no one between him and Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen, Kuznetsov waited. He waited so long in fact that forward Connor Brown was able to backcheck and turned what would have been a very good opportunity into a much easier save for Andersen.
“A guy caught him,” Barry Trotz said after the game. “Just get it off quick. Guys close quick on you defensively.”
Would Kuznetsov have scored if he had fired the shot? Would the Caps have won if he had scored? We don’t know, but Kuznetsov would have had a better chance at scoring had he shot the puck quickly and Washington would have been in a better position to win if they had gotten the first goal on the board.
It was just another moment that made fans watching in Capital One Arena and at home yell in unison, “Kuznetsov, shoot the puck!”
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In a rematch of last year’s ridiculously entertaining first round playoff matchup, the high-flying Maple Leafs skated away with a 2-0 victory over the Caps on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena. The Caps are now 3-3-1 on the season.
Here are Tarik’s three stars of the game.
1-Connor Brown, Maple Leafs
Most people had Brown scoring the decisive goal, right? The winger started the season on the fourth line but was promoted to the third line ahead of this game—and he made the most of the opportunity. At 5:53 of the third period, Brown fought off Evgeny Kuznetsov, pounced on a rebound and pounded the puck between Braden Holtby’s pads. Interestingly, the Leafs came into the game leading the league in goals per at 5.20.
2-Braden Holtby, Capitals
The Caps’ starter did all he could, turning away 28 of 29 shots he faced. Holts was at his best on the penalty kill, where he stopped all three shots the Leafs put on him. His best save of the game likely came in the opening moments of the game—a right pad stop on James van Riemsdyk, who was looking to finish a 2-on-1.
3-John Carlson, Capitals
With Matt Niskanen week-to-week with an upper body injury, the minutes load has fallen on No. 74’s shoulders. And it did again vs. Toronto. Carlson finished with 27:33 of ice time. He also had a couple of good looks early on but he couldn’t finish.
Do you agree? Give us your thoughts in the comments.
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The Capitals came into Tuesday's game a bit shorthanded with Lars Eller out due to an illness and Matt Niskanen on LTIR. They lost yet another player in the first period as Tyler Graovac out for the rest of the night due to an upper-body injury.
Graovac took two hits from Leafs forward Matt Martin that may have led to the injury.
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Martin gave Graovac a two-handed shove in the back that knocked Graovac to the ice. You can see after the play Graovac doubles back to have a quick word with Martin after the hit.
Graovac took another hit from Martin on his next shift.
This time, Graovac appears to see Martin coming and leans into the check, but took the full brunt of the hit on his left shoulder. He can be seen favoring his left arm/shoulder later before exiting down the tunnel.
Graovac was in Tuesday's lineup centering the third line in place of the sick Eller.
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