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Maple Leafs drop playoff opener against Washington in overtime

14 April 2017

Playing hockey as a kid in Toronto, Tom Wilson often imagined what it would be like to score a game-winning goal in the playoffs. Hockey media can sleep well knowing that their predictions in the playoff series between the Washington Capitals and the Toronto Maple Leafs are intact... for now.

"I don't know 100 percent for sure", Babcock said Wednesday. Toronto counterpart Frederik Andersen was arguably the best player on the ice with 41 saves before being beaten by Wilson with an absurd shot on the victor. I actually know him a little bit now through family friends. "Maybe (teammate Kevin Shattenkirk) or someone was calling for the puck", Wilson said. "I'm not going to deny that I saw it". There are no bad shots in overtime.

Holtby said Williams did more than just score two big goals to get the Capitals back in the game.

The pressure is definitely on the Capitals, but they responded to their poor start like championship teams should. With seven minutes to go, Alex Ovechkin, who had been a non-presence throughout the game due to the hard-checking of Polak, had his best chance of the game, charging the net on a two-on-one but deflecting the incoming pass wide.

Added Washington coach Barry Trotz: "We turned some pucks over". "They get too loose, it'll make it too easy for 'em". "It's important for your players, who get to watch how hard everyone plays, and how little room there is, how the game works".

"The energy in the building is different and the energy in each shift is different", Babcock said. "We had so many opportunities to shoot and ended passing instead of shooting on the net".

"I think what they found out tonight is that you can skate with them", Maple Leafs Coach Mike Babcock said.

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First, Holtby stopped Marner after the center created an opening in front, and then with 3:29 left, Andersen gloved Marcus Johansson's redirect attempt. He was always just an above-average player, I guess, in the regular season and then come playoff time he won a Conn Smythe, he won a couple Cups. James Van Riemsdyk passed the puck off the goal and into the slot where Marner beat Brooks Orpik and Lars Eller to it and deposited the puck. Babcock challenged the call, and after a review, the goal was allowed. The Capitals' depth came through in spades, but the team's superstars are going to have to be at their best if Washington is going to go deep into the playoffs.

The only major blemish in the first period was the penalty trouble in the middle after Brian Boyle and Leo Komarov (officially awarded to Zach Hyman) took interference and tripping (actually more of a slash) penalties in a 30-second span.

A pretty passing play between Marner, Bozak and JVR was cleaned up by Marner after a good second effort from JVR put the puck back into play with Braden Holtby out of position. "So let's just go out there and play". Washington has lost all five Game 7s it has played after the Capitals took a 3-1 series lead.

Toronto's primary defensive tandem for handling Ovechkin and the Caps' top line, which also includes Backstrom and Oshie, is in real question with Nikita Zaitsev ruled out for Game 1 with an upper body injury.

It was the first playoff overtime loss for the Maple Leafs since dropping a 5-4 decision in Game 7 against the Boston Bruins in May 2013. D Taylor Chorney, D Nate Schmidt and C Paul Carey sat for the Capitals. Martin Marincin stepped into the lineup and played 13:43 in his first game since March 14.

Wilson is one of several Capitals players the Maple Leafs have to worry about as they try to dig out of a 1-0 hole.

The Williams goal 12:24 into the game helped the Capitals go into the first intermission with some confidence as they went on for a 3-2 overtime victory.

Maple Leafs drop playoff opener against Washington in overtime