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Tom Wilson responds to Mike Babcock's slight in the best way possible

Tom Wilson responds to Mike Babcock's slight in the best way possible

On Tuesday, Mike Babcock minimized Tom Wilson's impact by saying the Maple Leafs had bigger concerns than the Caps’ fourth line right wing.

On Thursday, Wilson got back at the Maple Leafs head coach in the best way imaginable: he scored in overtime to push Washington past Toronto, 3-2, in Game 1 of the teams’ first round series.

Wilson acknowledged that he had seen Babcock’s comments scroll across his social media feed earlier in the week.

“Yeah, I am on Twitter,” he said.

“That’s the way it goes nowadays with social media and stuff. You grab those headlines and kind of everyone sees them.”

Wilson added: “When it comes down to it, it’s not going to change the way I play or the team plays or the way he coaches. When you go out there, all that’s kind of put behind and then you go out and play hockey.”

RELATED: Williams says 'enough is enough' before putting team on his back

The goal, which came 5:15 into overtime, was Wilson’s first in 29 career playoff games. It also sank his hometown team, which jumped out to an early 2-0 lead against the tournament's top seed.

After the game, Babcock’s dismissive comments resurfaced.

“Nothing against [Wilson], because he works hard and all that, but he’s not as big of concern as a lot of people on their team,” Babcock had said, as quoted in The Washington Post.

“He’s a forechecker and he works hard, I think their fourth line has been real good for them. In saying that, they’ve got a lot of players that we’ll concern ourselves with more.”

Given the events in overtime, Babcock might want a second stab at answering that question.

Indeed, playoff history is littered with stories of fourth liners who have buried game winners in overtime.

Now, Wilson is part of that history.

The decisive play began with Leafs defenseman Martin Marincin retrieving a puck in the corner and then making a hurried, soft chip off the glass. Wilson sealed off the boards, gloved down the puck and sniped a shot over goaltender Frederik Andersen.

“Lots of emotion, obviously, pretty crazy,” Wilson said. “Once the puck goes in it’s a whirlwind. It’s a good feeling. Hopefully we keep it rolling here.”

As Wilson said, Babcock’s quote wasn’t the reason Marincin turned the puck over. Or the reason it eluded Andersen. It didn’t fuel Wilson’s competitive fire, either.

But it did make for a pretty fun story in a series that’s just getting started.

“I’m trying to take the high road here,” Wilson cracked. “I see it, obviously, because my phone’s not off. It comes through, I get people sending me it and stuff. I’m not going to deny that I saw it.”

“But, honestly, it’s a pretty true quote,” he continued. “He’s got a point. We’ve got Ovie, Nicky, Osh, Kuzy. There are other guys that they have to worry about. Maybe the way he said it seemed a little...but you know what? I’m glad that he said I worked hard, that’s a compliment; I’ll take that. There’s a lot of threats in this room and I think that’s all he was saying. Maybe it came off a little bit of the wrong way but we went out there and we played and he’s a respected coach in this league and we’ll leave it at that.”

MORE CAPITALS: Caps overcome 2-goal deficit, down Leafs in OT

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.


A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.


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3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.