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NHL: Washington Capitals strike early, top Toronto Maple Leafs to tie series

20 April 2017, 06:17 | Charlene Valdez

Capitals fans definitely not panicking after Leafs take 2-1 series lead

Alex Ovechkin scores franchise-leading 43rd career playoff goal

The Toronto Maple Leafs host the Washington Capitals for Game 4 of their series, and the home team will look to build on their lead-and get under the Caps' skin.

"I always say that you make your money during the season, but you make your reputation in the playoffs, and right now he's showing everybody that he's a gamer", Senators coach Guy Boucher said of Ryan.

"Start on time", Matthews said, looking ahead to Game 5. "Real happy for him".

The Capitals applied pressure in the Leafs' end from the opening shift of the game and when the horn sounded to end the first period, had tied a franchise record with four goals in one playoff period.

"I don't have a ideal answer for why we were flat, but I do know that we did recover, and got ourselves back in the game, and that's the important part", said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "We want to improve on tonight and get even better".

Matthews has had a tremendous rookie season, posting 69 points (40 goals and 29 assists) through 82 games.

Tom Wilson's homecoming of sorts has proven to be crucial for the Washington Capitals.

He added: "That line was good".

The Capitals practised at the MasterCard Centre on Tuesday and know they won't be able to escape the underachievers storyline until they get a series win over Toronto. Mitch Marner and William Nylander each had two assists, and Fredrik Andersen stopped 22 shots for the Maple Leafs.

Leafs are in charge, leading the series 2-1 with another game on home ice before returning to Washington for game five on Friday.

Fifty-nine seconds after the Matthews goal, T.J. Oshie scored his second of the game after a Toronto turnover, giving the Leafs rally a quick death.

Facing the prospect of heading home with a single loss separating them from an early start to their summer vacation, the Capitals played as if they were exhausted about the questions regarding their desire and past playoff failures. Ovechkin then was left wide open for a one-time drive on a power play, making it 2-0 at 4:34 of the first.

Observers of the first-round series in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs between the Caps and Maple Leafs had been starting to wonder. Seven of the first 24 games have featured a blown lead of two goals or more, 11 have gone to overtime and winning goals have come from some of the unlikeliest of sources. He's got to play more. "We still have to be prepared to come out on time".

Wilson first pulled back a Morgan Rielly shot from the goal line after it snuck through the pads of Holtby.

Not long after, Wilson scored at 13:41, deflecting a Lars Eller shot.

Washington made it a three-goal advantage 2:23 later with Wilson finishing off a 2-on-1 feed from Burakovsky.

"I just take them as they come, trying to work hard", said Wilson of the first period.

We've got a series again.

Will Elliott get a chance to bounce back in Game 4, or will Flames coach Glen Gulutzan opt to go with Chad Johnson as Calgary tries to avoid elimination?

Toronto scored a power-play goal at 5:39 of the second period, the second of the series by van Riemsdyk, whose shot from the right circle deflected off a defender.

Washington appeared to go up 5-2 with just under 12 minutes to go, but the goal by Schmidt was waved off on goalie interference. The Caps challenged the play, which saw Nicklas Backstrom get tangled up with Andersen, but the initial call was confirmed.

"It's a lot closer match than people let on", coach Barry Trotz said after losing Game 3 in Toronto.

"We know our aspirations".

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