The Capitals hung on and beat the Leafs 5-4 in Game Four Wednesday Night, knotting their first round series at two games apiece.
Where to begin. The universe threw everything it had at the Caps last night and then hurled the kitchen sink at them as well. After early goals by TJ Oshie and Alex Ovechkin, the Caps soldiered on through bad bounces, goal-line saves, ill-timed penalties, an atrocious no-goal call, and a late Leafs push to get the all-important season-saving “W.”
The Leafs had several stretches in the third period where they lobbed everything they had at the Caps net, and the game ended at 52 Caps shot attempts to 45 by the Leafs (at five-on-five). But make no mistake about it, the Caps did what they needed to do – late in the second, shot attempts were 44-21 in favor of the good guys.
WSH-TOR G4 and after 4. pic.twitter.com/Gb0XMt2s3D
— Muneeb Alam (@muneebalamcu) April 20, 2017
This could be a lot of players. First up would be Tom Wilson, for his outrageous goal-line save, or his first goal, or his second goal – all while having stepped up to much bigger responsibilities on the third line. The Caps don’t win that game without Wilson’s performance, which feels weird to say. But no, this has to go to Alex Ovechkin. Going plus-six in shot attempts against the Kadri line, and the pairing of Nikita Zaitsev and Jake Gardiner, Ovi was a difference-maker. He was in the positives in every statistic, got the PPG, and he played with total resolve and desperation. There is no doubt that the Captain set the tone and led the way from the opening faceoff onwards.
In a long 82-game regular season we generally take for granted that shot quality and shot locations even out to some extent. But in a much shorter seven-game series, they are all-important. There has been a bit of an up-and-down when it comes to the Caps and where they’ve generated their chances from. Going into game three, Anderson was actually seeing similar shot quality (if not higher) than Braden Holtby, but the catastrophe that was game three shifted the tide in favor of the Leafs. Well, last night the Caps punched back, as they clearly had the better of the chances as shown by the shot chart below. After getting largely boxed out in the game prior it will certainly be interesting to see if the Capitals can keep generating these higher quality opportunities going forward.
Stats courtesy of Corisca.Hockey, Hockeystats.ca, and NaturalStatTrick.
Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI.
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