Thursday, April 13, 2017

Caps Overcome Horrid Start to Down Leafs in OT

The Washington Capitals survived a putrid start and an upstart, high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs club on Thursday night to win Game One of their first-round playoff series at the Verizon Center.

Just barely.

Tom Wilson become the latest unlikely post-season hero when he sailed a wrist shot from the boards that flew over the shoulder of Frederik Andersen for his first career playoff goal in 29 playoff games.

Wilson, a fourth-line banger known more for his bone-crushing body checks than his seeing-eye wristers, joins Tanner Glass among the fourth-liners that have scored game-winners in the first two days of this year's playoffs. Glass wrenched a backhand past Carey Price in Montreal last night--his first-period goal proved to be the eventual game-winner for the Rangers, who secured a 2-0 win over the Canadiens on Wednesday.

The Rangers never looked back after Glass' goal; Washington's win took a bit longer to come to fruition. The Caps fell behind early after they surrendered a bevy of Grade A chances to the Leafs in a chaotic first ten minutes of play. Whether it was nerves or Toronto's team speed, it wasn't pretty for Washington.

**Scroll down the page to see Barry Trotz break down his team's confounding start.**

After Mitch Marner opened the scoring by scoring while falling to the ice when a shot attempt by James van Riemsdyk clanged off the side of the net and caromed into the slot, Jake Gardiner gave Toronto a 2-0 lead on a goal that was originally overruled due to interference by Nazem Kadri. Kadri provided a thick screen in front of Braden Holtby as Gardiner shot on the play, But replays showed that there was no interference and the goal was allowed after Mike Babcock's coach's challenge.

Washington started to peck away from there.

Justin Williams tapped home a nifty pass from T.J. Oshie on the power play to pull the Capitals within one, and Williams scored again at 16:00 of the second period to bring the Capitals level.

Williams, a veteran of 128 playoff games, now has 35 career playoff goals.

It was a start to forget, but the Capitals can take confidence that they won despite the fact that they started as bad as they possibly can.

"The first 30 minutes, I'm not happy with our game, I don't think anybody in our room [was]," said Capitals head coach Barry Trotz. "We didn't have any panic. That was really good. We started to get some momentum in the last 30 minutes and I thought we were fine after that."

He added: "It's a really good wake-up call for us. You get in the playoffs and there are no easy games. ... I know we have another level, so I think it's great that we didn't have the start that we [wanted] and we were able to come out on the positive end -- I think we can build on that."