Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Johansson's OT goal gives Capitals series win at Toronto

Brady Skjei's second goal put the Rangers up 5-3 at 5:10 of the third period. It all went downhill from there Brady Skjei's second goal put the Rangers up 5-3 at 5:10 of the third period. It all went downhill from there
Frederick Owens | 25 April, 2017, 13:29

And then you have this idea in your head that you could be good, and then you go out there and start winning games.

But that steadily changed as the series wore on, winning 52 percent in a Game 3 loss, 52 percent in a Game 4 win and 55 percent in a Game 5 win. Although Holtby was near flawless in a 2-1 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 5, he had allowed four goals in each of Games 2 through 4.

Boston had injury issues, especially on defence with Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo out and veteran centre David Krejci played in just three of six games. Both teams came out looking to execute the same game plans from the earlier games.

"They gave us everything they had, and we had to work hard for it and we had to stick with it for a long time", Johansson said.

Toronto is the third of five Canadian-based teams to be eliminated from the opening round joining the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames.

Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs have reasons for optimism, and expectations, heading into next season.

Jake Gardiner almost scored for the Leafs a few minutes earlier, but his blast from the point pinged off the crossbar.

Frederik Andersen makes a save.

Johansson got two cracks at a rebound off Justin Williams' shot to beat Frederik Andersen for the overtime victor.

As immensely promising as the performance of the rookies was this season (and to think they're only getting better), the Leafs can't assume everything will fall in place so nicely next season if they just leave the roster to sit and develop.

No one on the team indicates how bright the future looks more than Matthews.

On the game-winner, Johansson knocked in the puck after Justin Williams got it to the front of the net.

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So the Capitals, the President's Trophy winners, moved on. There was only one problem for Washington: Andersen. That bodes well for the Leafs, and I just want to congratulate them on a fantastic season.

It was the Leafs' young talent that emerged most brightly, beginning with Auston Matthews who became only the second teenager ever after Wendel Clark to score in four straight playoff games.

"They've got something to be very very excited (about) and I'll tell you, they pushed us and they hardened us in this series", said Capitals head coach Barry Trotz. That led to the Maple Leafs winning 65 percent of the faceoffs in regulation and 64 percent when the night was done.

While the goal woke up the crowd, it also invigorated the Capitals, who increased their assault on the Leafs net, but still Andersen was making it look easy, making big save after big save with none bigger than a massive glove save on TJ Oshie who managed to break in alone. Rather, the bounces finally started to go the goaltenders' way.

Matthews ultimately played in all 82 games this season, setting a franchise record of 40 goals and 69 points.

Mitch Marner had spoken in the morning of remembering what made him successful during the regular season, but there he was offering something new when he bowled over the much bigger Tom Wilson with a check early in the game. The two battled all series, with Kadri's hit on Ovechkin in Game 5 the hardest in the six games.

Someone else Ovechkin spoke to was Leafs centre Nazem Kadri.

It was a year ago that he tied Martin Brodeur's National Hockey League record of 48 wins in the regular season, but then was outplayed in the second round by Pittsburgh's Matt Murray, who had so little experience he qualified as a rookie this season. After two periods, a scoreless draw was where we remained. But it was Johansson, the Capitals' quiet, skilled forward, who ultimately tilted the series in the top seed's favor.

The 26-year-old Swedish forward also scored in the third period to tie the game and force overtime in the best-of-seven National Hockey League playoff series.

These Leafs were tested, and learned that they can play with anybody.

The second period consisted of many more scoring chances especially for the Caps who had some odd-man rushes as well as mini breakaways. This is a rematch from previous year, when the Pens beat Washington in six games en route to winning their fourth Stanley Cup.

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