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Tom Wilson plays hero for Capitals in Game 4 win over Leafs

20 April 2017, 06:25 | Charlene Valdez

Getty Images

Getty Images

It didn't take long for the Toronto Maple Leafs to find themselves in familiar territory on Wednesday night.

The win tied the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final series at 2-2 with Game 5 set for Friday in Washington. "You know what, it's fun to win in Toronto for sure". 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.

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. You're down 2-1 in the series. Tyler Bozak scored with less than a minute to go to make it close, but this time the Leafs weren't coming back.

And yet in the Caps' first round series against his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, Wilson has come alive. How this team plays in Game 5, how quickly they internalize these lessons, how they play in the latest biggest game of most of their lives, will determine how they get to feel.

I think there's something far greater that's attributed to the Leafs success against the Capitals in the first round. "I thought today's game was fair". We weren't good enough, we didn't compete hard enough. To me, that's just real simple.

If overconfidence was a factor for Toronto when they stepped on the ice, the Capitals' stars took it away in a hurry.

When Matthews scored 12 minutes into the third period, the Leafs were down a goal and the crowd went bonkers, inspired by the idea of a complete comeback.

After seeing the inexperienced Edmonton Oilers fall 7-0 to the San Jose Sharks, the Maple Leafs head coach explained to his club that the level of play would rise higher with every game that passed.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are leading the series 2-1 with the next game being played in Toronto on Wednesday night. What Rielly said is true: The Leafs can win this series. The Leafs twice closed the gap to one, but ultimately dropped a game they deserved to lose. "We were putting pucks to the right areas" Oshie said. "It's not about hanging on, and trying to squeak one out, it's about controlling the play and being in the driver's seat and going out there and winning the game". But failing to score with almost two full minutes of a 5-on-3 advantage seemed to boring any comeback chances.


After Oshie and Alex Ovechkin put the Caps up 2-0, Zach Hyman scored for the Leafs when a Jake Gardiner point shot hit him and got past Braden Holtby.

"We didn't come to compete from the beginning, that's obvious", Andersen said. For once Toronto actually stayed out of the box, taking just one minor penalty, but converted on only one of their four power play chances. "I thought they executed better than us and they were on top of us instead of us executing better than them and getting on top of them". "[Holtby] came up big on some saves", said Auston Matthews of the 5-on-3. The Toronto native had seven goals in 82 regular season games this season.

The top-seeded Capitals evened the first-round playoff series at two games apiece. "You want to stay even keel".

It's not always the big names that are going to win you games in the Stanley Cup playoffs. We've earned the right to have that. "We talked a lot about how the game was going to be but we didn't look like any of that sunk in". The Leafs could have won this game, or at least given themselves a much better shot.

Matthews scored his second of the series at 12 minutes, but Oshie restored Washington's two-goal lead 59 seconds later.

Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said before the series that the six-foot-four, 210-pound forward wasn't a big concern prior to Game 1. Their possession numbers were abysmally low, clocking in at 26 per cent by midway through the second period.

This Capitals team is not very speedy. For them, this was a do-or-die game.

Game of inches: The margin for error in playoffs is razor-thin, and one play can turn the tide on a dime.

On his next shift, Wilson barreled over Rielly near the Washington blue line and then finished off a 2-on-1 sequence with Burakovsky for a 4-1 lead at 16:04. The forward laid a bone-crunching hit on Rielly late in the period, and the blueliner fell to the ice as Andre Burakowsky's skate caught him near the mouth. The 23-year-old first stopped Morgan Rielly's shot from sneaking across the goal-line and then raced to the other end to deflect an innocent Lars Eller shot.



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