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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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Alex Ovechkin and Henrik Lundqvist add new chapter to their rivalry Sunday

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USA Today

Alex Ovechkin and Henrik Lundqvist add new chapter to their rivalry Sunday

Everyone knows about the Alex Ovechkin/Sidney Crosby rivalry. Two generational talents who entered the league the same year playing for rival franchises was a dream scenario for the NHL. That rivalry is so great that it can be easy to overlook some of the other great matchups we see between Ovechkin and other players.

On Sunday, we will be treated to another of Ovechkin’s great rivals as Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers come to Washington (12:30 p.m., NBC Sports Washington).

One of the best goal scorers of all-time against one of the NHL’s top netminders? Yes please.

Ovechkin has won the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal-scorer seven times in his career and looks well on his way to No. 8 as he leads the league in goals again with 44. He has hit 50 goals seven times and has the most goals among active players with 651. Lundqvist, meanwhile, won the Vezina in 2012 and has a career save percentage of .919. He is sixth all-time in wins with 448.

These two have had epic battles over the years. Ovechkin has scored 24 goals on Lundqvist, tied for the most he has scored against any netminder over the course of his career. He also has another 13 goals in the playoffs against King Henrik. Lundqvist went so far as to call Ovechkin “one of the best goal scorers of all time” in an interview with Esquire.

Another chapter in the rivalry will be written on Sunday. Who will win this round?

Game notes

Nick Jensen to make his debut

Jensen will make his Capitals debut Sunday against the Rangers after skating in warmups and adjusting to his new team on Saturday. With no morning skate it is unclear who will come out. Christian Djoos was playing right on the third pair which is where Jensen will slot in. Chances are either Djoos or Brooks Orpik will be out.

Pheonix raising

Pheonix Copley will start Sunday after Braden Holtby got the start Sunday in Buffalo. Copley has won his last three starts with a .908 save percentage.

Home sweet home

The Caps concluded a season-long six-game road trip Saturday in Buffalo. Sunday’s game will be the first in Washington since a 6-4 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 11. Washington has gone 4-1-1 at home since the All-Star break.

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Caps can't complete season sweep, fall to Sabres 5-2

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USA Today

Caps can't complete season sweep, fall to Sabres 5-2

The Capitals could not complete the season sweep of the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday as Sam Reinhart recorded a hat trick in a 5-2 loss for Washington. The Caps gave up two goals in the first and chased the rest of the game, but never could erase the deficit.

Saturday's game finished off a season-long six-game road trip for Washington which now heads home with three wins in those six games.

Here are five reasons the Caps lost Saturday.

A misplay by Dmitry Orlov

It has been a tough season for the Caps’ second defensive pair of Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen. That continued on Saturday as Buffalo got on the board thanks to a mistake by Orlov.

Jack Eichel had the puck along the boards on the right side of Washington’s defensive zone with Niskanen in good position between the puck and the net. Orlov was tailing Jeff Skinner in front of the net and when Skinner went to the right corner, Orlov followed him leaving both defensemen on the right side of the ice and absolutely no one in front. Skinner passed to a wide-open Jason Pominville who buried the goal.

That was just one play in what was a really tough day for the pair which struggled all game long.

A perfect shot

Buffalo cleared their zone with a flip of the puck into the neutral zone. The puck took a few bounces before anyone could settle it and Evan Rodrigues managed to chip it over to Sam Reinhart who had a lane to shoot on Braden Holtby. Holtby saw him coming on his left and slid over to square up, but his momentum carried him just a bit leaving the right corner of the net open. Reinhart wristed the shot into that corner to extend Buffalo’s lead to 2-0 in the first period.

A late power play goal

Washington did not have a great start to the game, but seemed to settle things down in the second period. Alex Ovechkin scored on the breakaway to make it 2-1 and the ice began tilting in the Caps’ favor. At least it was until Nic Dowd took a late tripping penalty with just over two minutes remaining.

Instead of going into the locker room down by only one and feeling confident, the Caps were suddenly on their heels on the penalty kill. Rasmus Dahlin scored with just 31 seconds left in the second frame. That goal put momentum back In Buffalo’s favor.

A quick response

There was a brief moment of hope in the third period for Caps fans as Andre Burakovsky pulled Washington to within one less than five minutes into the third. Reinhart, however, scored his second of the game just 1:27 later to restore Buffalo’s two-goal lead.

Carter Hutton

Washington’s defense was just plain bad in this game. The offense, however, looked pretty good. Buffalo’s netminder was just better.

Hutton turned aside 31 of the 33 shots he faced including a handful of top-notch saves, especially in the second period. T.J. Oshie tried to sneak a great shot blocker side between Hutton’s arm and body, but he managed to just squeeze the arm together in time to get the stop. He was particularly good against the third line which was Washington’s best line of the day, denying Brett Connolly off a great cross-ice pass from Lars Eller and stunning Eller with a great save as Eller took a pass right on the back door. Eller looked like he had an empty net, but he was skating backward and the pass was just behind him. Eller couldn’t fire a one-timer, because of the position of the puck, he had to control the puck first and fire it. That little delay allowed Hutton just enough time to get over for the save.

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