The Runner Sports

Capitals Drop Game 2 In Double Overtime Thriller

For the second game in a row, the Washington Capitals overcame a lead to force overtime. However, they found themselves on the losing side of the puck as the Toronto Maple Leafs took Game 2 in an exhausting 4-3 double-overtime finish.

Like Game 1, Toronto scored the first goal of the game in the first period. James van Riemsdyk roofed a loose puck to put the visitors on top. In the second period, Alex Ovechkin wristed a power-play goal past Frederik Andersen to tie the score. Later, John Carlson bombed a power play slap shot into the top shelf for a 2-1 Capitals lead. Kasperi Kapanen put a backhander through Braden Holtby for a tie score, a goal that withstood a coach’s challenge for offsides. Toronto took the lead on a late Morgan Reilly power-play goal. In the third period, Nicklas Backstrom tucked a puck past Andersen to tie the game at three. Kapanen sent the visitors home with a series split with a shot past Holtby in double-overtime.

For any Capitals fans reading this, brace yourselves. This article will not have many positive things to say about this game.

First off, let’s start with how the Capitals played in their own zone. Plain and simple, they were pretty bad. They frequently turned the puck over behind the net and on the boards. Speaking of which, the Capitals turned the puck over a horrendous 28 times. That’s 11 more turnovers than they had in Game 1. Too many times players failed to clear the puck because of soft chip passes being intercepted by aggressive Toronto forwards. Six players had at least 3 turnovers. That’s awful.

In my Game 1 recap, I said that Washington would need more traffic in front of the net in Game 2. Once again, the Capitals took until the third period to start crashing the net. Playoff success revolves largely around “dirty goals,” goals scored near the net. Take Backstrom’s goal. He waited by the net for a loose puck and he was rewarded for it. A goalie will stop a lot of shots if he has a clear line of vision to the puck. Washington has to have constant traffic in front of Andersen, not wait until the third period to start crashing the cage.

Fans can debate who was more detrimental to the Capitals in Game 2. For this writer, that man is Matt Niskanen. In Game 2, his alter ego “Risky Nisky” came to play as he was one of the players with 3 turnovers. I can’t count how many times where I would be screaming at my television whenever #2 made a soft play in his own zone. One instance came in the third period where Niskanen tried a pass behind the net that was picked off in the high slot and turned into a Leafs scoring chance. John Carlson had 3 turnovers as well but I found myself yelling way more at Niskanen.

For a team that boasted a high-powered offense in the regular season, the playoff Capitals have frequently required a jump-start due to falling behind early. Washington has only led for three minutes and 19 seconds in the entire series. That is unacceptable. Heading into Game 3, the Capitals should focus on getting an early lead and then building on it. Easier said than done but wouldn’t it be nice to not have to keep having to battle from behind?

For all the bad in Game 2, there was still some good. First, Alex Ovechkin. What a game from the Washington captain. He was firing on all cylinders and showed up a lot on the stat sheet. A goal, 9 shots, 7 hits, and 2 blocked shots. That’s what I call leading by example. Ovechkin got a few tough bounces such as his third period five-hole shot that squeaked wide and his overtime breakaway. Washington will need more of the same in Game 3.

Can’t forget the man between the pipes, Braden Holtby. He rebounded quite nicely after giving up a very soft goal to Kapanen in the second period. He did everything he could to backstop Washington to a win but unfortunately didn’t get it. Holtby finished with 47 saves on 51 shots for a .922 save percentage. His best save came on a tough leg stretch to deny William Nylander.

What’s Next: The Capitals will head to Toronto for Game 3 on Monday night. The Maple Leafs will be without defenseman Roman Polak, who was injured on a Brooks Orpik hit. Washington should look to do something they failed to do in Game 2: capitalize against a depleted defensive corps.

Andrew Markowitz

Longtime Capitals fan hoping to see a Stanley Cup parade in D.C. this year...or at least once in my life