The result might have been the same, but at least this time the Toronto Maple Leafs showed some fight.
While the Leafs might have lost to the Washington Capitals 3-2, they showed that they might have actually learned something from the constant blowouts. Their compete level was so much higher in this game that it looked like a completely different team.
After a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin got the Capitals on the board first six minutes into the second period. However, the Leafs showed an immediate response with James van Riemsdyk scoring a power play goal less than three minutes later.
Phil Kessel gave the Leafs the 2-1 lead just 54 seconds into the third period. However, a few minutes later, Washington got two lucky breaks. Nicklas Backstrom of the Capitals nearly put the puck into his own net off his skate and less than a minute later, he put a pass off of Jay McClement‘s skate that deflected into the net behind Jonathan Bernier. Joel Ward put the Capitals up for good at the 11:51 mark of the third, shortly after a David Clarkson penalty expired.
The Leafs did show desperation after the Ward goal, but were unable to tie the game.
The Maple Leafs did make their mistakes. They were out-shot, albeit only by one. However, this was one of the best games the Leafs had played in a while. Bernier played a good game, suffering from another bad break on the Backstrom goal.
Michal Neuvirth got the start for the Capitals and played just as well as Bernier, just slightly better in the third period, earning the game’s third star honour.
Another plus for the Leafs was that they did not allow a power play goal while giving Washington seven opportunities. While the Capitals’ last goal was scored seconds after Clarkson stepped out of the box, the fact the Leafs didn’t give up any power play goals against the NHL’s best power play is impressive.
The Leafs’ next game is Sunday at home against the New Jersey Devils.