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Caps suffer second overtime loss as Leafs take advantage of late penalty

Caps suffer second overtime loss as Leafs take advantage of late penalty

Final score: Washington Capitals 3, Toronto Maple Leafs 4

How it happened: The Caps’ top line showed up ready to play on Monday helping Washington jump out to an early 2-0 lead. Nicklas Backstrom finished off a rush with Nate Schmidt and later fed Alex Ovechkin for a one-time goal that left Air Canada Centre silent. Toronto would respond later in the period, however, as Auston Matthews would take advantage of an odd deflection to score the first playoff goal of his career. Evgeny Kuznetsov netted a rebound goal to extend the lead to 3-1, but the Leafs came roaring back with a deflection goal from Connor Brown. William Nylander tied the game before the end of the second period as he was left all alone in front of the net and was able to collect the rebound off his initial shot for the goal. Both held of the scoreboard in the third leading to yet another overtime game. Lars Eller took a high-sticking penalty with just 15 seconds left in regulation giving the Leafs a power play to start overtime. They would cash in as Tyler Bozak scored the game-winner just 1:37 into overtime.

What it means: Toronto is giving the Caps everything they can handle and now shockingly hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to take a 3-1 stranglehold at home on Wednesday. Washington’s back is against the wall now as the winner of Game 3 after a 1-1 split goes on to win the series 67.6-percent of the time.

Goals

Caps goal: Nicklas Backstrom from Nate Schmidt and T.J. Oshie at 2:43 in the 1st period. Toronto dumped the puck behind the Caps’ net, but John Carlson cut off Auston Matthews with the body allowing Oshie to get the puck. He passed it up to Oshie whow fed it up to Backstrom and the break was on. Backstrom fed Schmidt back who joined the rush and Schmidt returned the favor with a backhand pass to Backstrom in the slot for the goal. Caps 1, Maple Leafs 0

Caps goal: Alex Ovechkin from Nicklas Backstrom and T.j. Oshie at 4:49 in the 1st period. The Caps’ forecheck pressured the Leafs behind their own net forcing the turnover. Oshie took the puck and fed Backstrom with the backhand who set up Ovechkin for the one-timer. Caps 2, Maple Leafs 0

Maple Leafs goal: Auston Matthews from Morgan Rielly at 14:08 in the 1st period. Two big hits from Nazem Kadri seemed to ignite the Leafs as they made a push on net. Matthews skated the puck into the offensive zone and fired a shot that deflected off of Carlson’s stick and off of Schmidt’s face. Everyone seemed to lose sight of the puck as a result of the odd deflection except for Matthews who collected it off his chest and crashed the net for the goal.  Caps 2, Maple Leafs 1

Caps goal: Evgeny Kuznetsov from Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson at 5:39 in the 2nd period. Kuznestov entered the offensive zone and handed the puck off to Johansson. Johansson let a shot go that was easily kicked aside by Frederik Andersen, but it went right to Kuznetsov who netted the sharp angle shot. Caps 3, Maple Leafs 1

Maple Leafs goal: Connor Brown from Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov at 15:13 in the 2nd period. The Leafs weren’t masking what their strategy was. They kepty corralling the puck down low and kicking it to the point for the shot. After Caps 3, Maple Leafs 2

Maple Leafs goal: William Nylander from Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman at 19:20 in the 2nd period. Hyman dumped the puck behind the Caps net and four Caps players chased after it. That left Nylander all alone in front of the net for a behind the back pass from Matthews. Braden Holtby made the initial save, but Nylander collected the rebound and fired it past the now helpless netminder. Caps 3, Maple Leafs 3

Maple Leafs goal: Tyler Bozak (power play) from Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly at 1:37 in overtime. Caps 3, Maple Leafs 4

3 Caps stars

1. Nicklas Backstrom: When it looked like the Caps were going to blow the Leafs out of the water, Backstrom scored the first goal of the game then added an assist to set up Ovechkin on the one-timer.

2. Nate Schmidt: Every time he gets into the lineup, he makes an impact. Less than three minutes into the game, he feeds Backstrom for the opening goal, registering an assist on the play.

3. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin scored the one-time goal early helping lead his line to a great start.

Look ahead: The series stays in Toronto for Game 4 on Wednesday then returns to Washington for Game 5 on Friday. Should the Caps win either of those games, it will force at least a Game 6 in Toronto on Sunday.

Watch the game? Tell us what you thought!

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Caps work on team building by fighting each other in FBI training

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@Capitals Twitter

Caps work on team building by fighting each other in FBI training

How much better would your work environment be if you had a chance to pin a coworker or get them in a chokehold? Probably a lot. That's what the Caps are banking on.

The team visited the FBI Academy on Wednesday in a team building exercise that included raming doors and, of course, hand to hand combat.

Let's break down some of these wrestling matchups.

Braden Holtby appears to be thanking John Carlson for playing 27:33 on Tuesday.

It seems dangerous to pit a goalie against a defenseman. Carlson spends all of his time on the ice trying to protect Holtby. Just how hard was Carlson really trying to take down Holtby?

It's no surprise seeing Tom Wilson enjoying himself with the hand to hand combat. Whoever went up against him (it looks like Jay Beagle) certainly drew the short straw.

And then there's this.

Nicklas Backstrom is having way, way too much fun. Maybe Andre Burakovsky was getting a bit chesty in the locker room after his first NHL fight. Well, it seems Backstrom certainly put him in his place.

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There are no moral victories, but Caps see a defensive effort they can build on in Tuesday's loss

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USA TODAY Sports

There are no moral victories, but Caps see a defensive effort they can build on in Tuesday's loss

The Capitals probably deserved a better result on Tuesday than a 2-0 loss at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Coming into that game, the Leafs were averaging 5.20 goals per game and had scored no fewer than three in any of their five games to start the season. Yet, a Capitals team fresh off an 8-2 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers managed to hold Toronto’s offense to only one goal, the second coming only after Braden Holtby had been pulled for the extra attacker.

“There's a lot of improvements from our game in Philadelphia, that's for sure,” Barry Trotz said following the game.

Aside from a flurry of chances from Toronto early in the first, the game was largely even between the two sides until Connor Brown put the Leafs up 1-0 in the third period.

RELATED: EVGENY KUZNETSOV COULD HAVE CHANGED TUESDAY'S GAME, HERE'S HOW

Despite their effort, however, do not take this game as proof that Washington has solved all of its blue line issues. Tuesday was just merely a step in the right direction.

“We did some things better [Tuesday],” Braden Holtby said. “The outcome could have been a little worse if luck wasn't on our side today on a few plays. We've got to keep a realistic mindset on that too.  But we did a lot of good things [Tuesday]. Our defense did a really good job at handling their speed and their size.”

Surprisingly, it was not the defense that cost Washington the game, but the offense. When the Caps needed a goal, they simply could not generate one against goalie Frederik Andersen.

Yes, the team needs to find more of a balance and get a full 60-minute effort on both ends of the ice, but there was also hope in the locker room on Tuesday that if they continue to improve in their own zone, it will ultimately lead to more offense in the other end.

“Everything is developed from the defensive zone,” Holtby said. “That's the way we've always had success scoring goals. If you're taking risks offensively, that's not a consistent way to play. You might win some games, but you're not going to win games consistently. That's what our foundation of our team is built around, our breakout, especially on our goal line and that what creates a lot of our offense.”

MORE CAPITALS: WHO STOOD OUT IN TUESDAY'S DEFENSIVE BATTLE?

What the first seven games of the season has shown is that the Capitals’ fate rests on its blue line. Yes, they need more depth scoring from their third and fourth line, but this team’s weakness is its defense. How they respond to their early struggles will determine the fate of the season.

“We'd be kidding ourselves if we're not going to have some growing pains along the way,” Holtby said of the team. “It's just how we handle them and what we do with them. How do we fight through them and get better?”

Tuesday’s game may have ended in a loss, but it was an effort the defense can build around. That is the silver lining. If they do build on this game, the Capitals still have a playoff caliber roster. If they do not, well, there is no telling how far Washington can sink.