After back-to-back losses against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Washington Capitals are facing questions pertaining to past playoff failures.
The young and talented Maple Leafs, who didn’t clinch the second wild card spot until the final weekend of the season, have taken a 2-1 series lead on the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals, after an overtime victory on Monday.
Not only did the Maple Leafs win, but they erased a two-goal deficit and got stronger as the game continued, particularly in the third period when on two different, lengthy occasions, they held the Capitals without a shot attempt.
William Nylander had a plus-18 Corsi For rating at even strength, while Auston Matthews was a plus-12 in that category. Both scored their first career playoff goals. They weren’t the only Toronto players with lofty possession numbers. Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner also dominated in this aspect, with Rielly had a pair of assists.
They now hold the advantage over a team favored to win it all this year, after previous playoff disappointments that followed highly successful regular seasons. The history, at least right now, cannot be ignored.
“Until we change the narrative, that’s going to be the question,” Matt Niskanen told the Washington Post. “It’s up to us to change it. You can’t talk about it. You just have to go and do it.”
This loss hinged on a failed five-on-three power play opportunity for the Capitals and a successful power play from the Maple Leafs, with Tyler Bozak scoring the winner, in overtime.
All three games in this series have gone beyond regulation, but this goes beyond the Maple Leafs simply making life miserable for the Capitals.
“It’s not over yet,” said Alex Ovechkin.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt,” added coach Barry Trotz. “It’s the first team to four [wins]. We’ve got some room here.
“I think, for the most part, we’re in a better place to handle that. We want to create some new ground, just like the Leafs are trying to do. They’re trying to break through. We’ve got to break through. Our resolve’s being tested.”