Published: Sat, April 15, 2017
World | By Tasha Manning

First night of playoffs teaches lesson to young Maple Leafs

First night of playoffs teaches lesson to young Maple Leafs

As the Chicago Blackhawks attempt to rebound from a shutout loss to the Nashville Predators, the Washington Capitals hope they've learned a lesson from coming back to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs. Washington has won seven division titles over the past 10 years but has failed to get out of the conference semifinals. "They have a young and talented team and we all know that about the Leafs".

Toronto is expected to be without injured defenseman Nikita Zaitsev again because of an upper-body injury.

File-This April 6, 2017, file photo shows Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) making a save on Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Toronto.

"If we have no setbacks, you'll see him in warmup tonight", Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.

There's no easy answer for what the Leafs should do without one of their top three defenders against the best team in the National Hockey League. Washington is loaded across the board as they have so much depth offensively, a very underrated and serviceable blue line, and a goaltender in Braden Holtby who is the reigning Vezina Trophy victor and should be finalist for the award again this season as the league's top goaltender. "And I think that was our No. 1 message to our team was, we can be better, so let's be better".

Earlier in the week, Babcock prodded Washington as the team with all the pressure on its shoulders, recalling his Presidents' Trophy-winning Detroit team which lost in the first round to Edmonton in 2006.

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Wilson's goal came two days after Babcock said the fourth-line winger is "not as big of concern as a lot of people" on the Capitals. "And put some doubt in any team we play that we can steal one from them". His regular season totals weren't as impressive this year, so perhaps he's learning to pace himself. Needless to say, Zaitsev has become a major contributor on the Maple Leafs blue line, and his absence will be felt tremendously. Roman Polak should play after being injured in the regular-season finale.

"It hit my stick weird and I thought it went over the net, behind the net", said Andersen, who finished with 41 saves and kept his team close even as the pendulum swung noticeably in the Capitals direction.

Maple Leafs goal: Mitch Marner from Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk at 1:35 in the 1st period. Ovechkin's average ice-time was down two minutes from last season. Luckily though, as Brian Boyle was exiting the penalty box, Oshie and Williams connected in the slot, the latter scoring to cut Toronto's lead in half.

Entering this season, the Capitals franchise has had 26 playoff appearances. "I like the youthful enthusiasm we have, I like how quick we can play, but we're going to have to play quick and do the right things". The Oilers did jump out to a two-goal lead but, outshot 44-19, couldn't hold on as the Sharks scored once in the second period, once in the third - and then once in OT to ice the game.

Others, like Carrick, are not fretting too much about how much talent the Capitals have. "I see a goal at the end, I see what we've done to get where we are now and I see what we need to do to accomplish that".

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