Capitals

Capitals

It looked like the Caps were going to win easily in Toronto on Saturday. The final was a bit too close for comfort, but the Capitals did hold on for the 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs.

Washington jumped out to a 2-0 lead with two goals from Alex Ovechkin. After a goal from Jakub Vrana in the second, it looked all but over. Then Jake Gardiner scored early in the third and the Leafs made a late push. The Caps held on, however, and won on the second leg of a back-to-back for the first time this season.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Alex Ovechkin

This one wasn't hard. Ovechkin scored twice in the first period to pass Mike Bossy for 21st on the all-time goal list.  The first goal came on a phenomenal end-to-end effort in which he was able to weave his way through the Maple Leafs' defense seemingly effortlessly before putting a shot past Curtis McElhinney almost before the goalie could even react. The second he teed up right off the faceoff for the power play goal. When this game turned into a nail-biter in the third period, it was Ovechkin who finished off the game and his 20th career hat trick with the empty net goal.

2. Jakub Vrana

Vrana took what was a one-on-one battle and turned it into a breakaway when he turned on the jets, pushed his way past Nikita Zaitsev and then left him in the dust. That goal turned into the game-winner. We can all see how moving Ovechkin back with Nicklas Backstrom has sparked the top line, but what about Vrana? He now has three goals in three games and has looked like a completely different player since being put on the second line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie.

 

3. Jake Gardiner

At 3-0 through two periods, this game looked over. Then he collected a misplay from Auston Matthews at the blue line and fired a slap shot that beat Braden Holtby. That brought woke up both the Leafs and the crowd and made this a game. Toronto dominated the third period and made a real push to tie a game that looked well in hand after 40 minutes.