Adrian: There’s one thing I want you to do for me.
Rocky Balboa: What’s that?
This is one of most memorable lines from Rocky 2, however the same exact dialogue has happened in the mind of every Leafs fan. The Leafs are Rocky and we are Adrian. We can’t fight the fight, we can throw any of the punches or even take a few. However, we sit there merciless and watch our underdog of a team take on the heavy favourite.
The playoffs are supposed to be fun, right? So far I feel I have aged significantly and we’re only 2 games in. The Leafs had a horrendous start. It just seemed like they were gonna get rolled over, The first was a series of a bad penalties and ugly plays. The Leafs didn’t register a single shot in the first 10 mins. Thankfully, Andersen was ready for everything Washington had and thanks to him the game was tied until late. Gardiner’s skating is a thing of beauty and while he elegantly carves up the ice, he gets the puck to JVR who shoots top shelf and makes it 1-0. The Leafs came alive in the second half and managed to end the period out shooting the Caps 9-7.
The Leafs came out on fire in the second. Strong play and ready to pounce however Marincin takes a dumb penalty and they are now on the PK. Like clockwork Oshie finds Ovechkin and Ovechkin does exactly what he always does. Scores. While the Matthews line has been silent, they have had some amazing chances. Hyman battles for the puck and keeps it in, gets it to Matthews who finds Nylander who just can’t tuck it home. It’s plays like these that reveals exactly why Babcock loves these 3 together. Hyman battles for the puck, Matthews runs the play and Nylander is all flash.
With Connor Carrick out for a high stick, John Carlson gets the puck and fires a bullet from the point home. With that goal it felt like the game was slipping out of reach. That fact was compounded when Roman Polak hits knee-on-knee with Orpik. The contact doesn’t seem to do the damage, however when he lands, his leg seems to take the bulk of his weight and snap. Roman Polak is a beast of a man, he’s tough as nail. Seeing him scream in pain was like seeing your dad cry as a child. You just aren’t prepared for that.
With the game feeling like it’s slipping away, Kasperi Kapanen gets the puck in front of the net, dangles with his back to Holtby and slides the puck through Holtby’s five-hole.
The refereeing this game has been…inconsistent at best. It got to a point where I never truly knew what was a penalty. I seemed to always be wrong. While Kadri was serving for a crosscheck Oshie and Ovechkin had a beautiful give and go but Andersen was ready. There were several scrambl-y plays in front of Andersen which was hard to sit through but again the Leafs stood strong. With Orlov in the penalty box, Rielly gets the puck from Marner and just patiently waits. He waits and waits and waits and fires a shot that eludes the bodies in front of the net and goes top shelf with 14 seconds left on the clock.
Washington was pressing hard, they knew they needed a goal and they were throwing everything at Andersen. Toronto was playing right and playing smart. Kadri would save the day by diving to avoid Backstrom getting the puck. The team was clicking and it was anxious filled period but the Leafs were doing all they could. Andersen set Matthews up with a beauty of a pass but unfortunately Matthews loses the puck while sneaking in. The Leafs would go on to have one of the worst shifts I have ever seen all year. They got sewn into their own end, while Washington ran laps around them. The Leafs can never get the puck out. The puck will eventually bounce off Gardiner’s stick and end up on Backstrom’s who has a wide open net. He scores.
The rest of the third and 2 OT periods are best described by Rock ’em Sock ’em robots. It was a constant barrage of back and forth chances. Almost every play seems like it’s going to end up in the net. Let’s put it this way, you can literally name every player on Washington and I’m pretty sure that Andersen robbed them.
There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe the double overtime. It was relentless, it was thrilling but honestly it was heart attack inducing. The entire overtime, it seemed like the Leafs would win it. Washington had several and I mean several chances. OV had a break away and Andersen came up huge. The Leafs managed to kill a penalty off and constantly play with confidence. Every line and every shift. Keep in mind that the Leafs are down to 5 defensemen and have barely any rest. The gas tank never seemed empty. On a hard nose 4th line shift, Matt ‘Lightning rod of criticism’ Martin gets the puck to Brian Boyle who goes behind the net and from the far side tucks it back to Kapanen who fires it home. That pass is insane and the fact that Boyle made it is even more so. On two offensively stacked team, it would be Toronto’s 4th line who would be able to find the back of the net.
There are some goal celebrations you never forget, Boyle banging the glass as the entire team group hugs, might be one of them. I’m pretty sure Kapanen said ‘I just got one thing to say… to my wife at home: Yo, Adrian! I DID IT!’
Series tied and it’s back to Toronto. Hell yeah.
Also Dart guy, look up dart guy.
SCORING BY PERIOD
Toronto Goal 17:34 J. van Riemsdyk (1) assisted by J. Gardiner and T. Bozak
Washington Goal 3:47 A. Ovechkin (1) (power play) assisted by T. Oshie and M. Johansson
Washington Goal 11:06 J. Carlson (1) (power play) assisted by J. Williams and A. Burakovsky
Toronto Goal 14:25 K. Kapanen (1) assisted by M. Martin and B. Boyle
Toronto Goal 19:46 M. Rielly (1) (power play) assisted by M. Marner
Washington Goal 12:39 N. Backstrom (1) assisted by D. Orlov
Toronto Goal 11:53 K. Kapanen (2) assisted by B. Boyle and M. Martin
SHOTS BY PERIOD
GAME WINNING GOAL
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— The Maz (@LeafsMaz20) April 16, 2017