Sunday night the Capitals beat the Toronto Maple Leafs for the last time this season, winning 2-1 in the fifth overtime of the series. All six games were won by one goal. Even though it would’ve been arrogant to completely dismiss the Leafs prior to this series, almost nobody thought it would be quite this tough (Peter and Ian excepted). Props to the Leafs, who showed that they can be a deep, tough, and structured opponent.
The heroics last night came mainly from Marcus Johansson, who got the OT winner and the late third period game-tying goal. Nate Schmidt was nearly injured by Leo Komarov (who we won’t miss), but hopefully he’ll be okay for the Caps’ upcoming matchup with the flightless birds.
Once again, shot attempts were nearly even at 63 to 62 in favor of the Caps at five-on-five, and scoring chances were 31-27. The Caps seized the “big moment” of OT and managed to put five shots on net to just one by the Leafs.
WSH-TOR series (six games of PBP, missing TOI for G2 though). Kadri line good vs Shattenkirk, not vs Carlson or Niskanen. Schmidt great. pic.twitter.com/r9SBZirawO
— Muneeb Alam (@muneebalamcu) April 24, 2017
We mentioned Ovi above, and overall he deserves accolades for being strong and captainly in this series. But this has got to go to Braden Holtby, who was briefly doubted after surrendering four goals in games two through four (although he did so with no shortage of crazy bounces and dangerous chances). The Caps seemed to settle down and get more structured as the series wore on, and with that Holts retook his natural form of a brick wall. He allowed just two goals on the last 63 shots of the series for a .968 save percentage. Holtby out-dueled Fredrik Andersson and once again showed that he fully deserves his recent Vezina nomination.
We will have plenty of time to look ahead between now and Thursday, but it’s interesting to ponder that given the performance the Leafs put on, there might not be that much of a step up between them and the Penguins. These things are always hard to predict but it’s possible that the Caps were served well by having such an unexpectedly scary first round warm-up (Holtby mentioned this factor during his postgame, as well).
Let’s take a look at some of the key stats for the Pens and the Leafs from the regular season. All non-special-teams stats are five-on-five and score adjusted. Statistically, these two teams aren’t separated by as much as you’d think.
|Shot attempts per 60||61.2||59.8|
|Shot attempts allowed per 60||58.7||58.1|
|GF per 60||2.6||2.9|
|GA per 60||2.5||2.3|
|Expected goals-for percent||51.9||52.8|
|Scoring chance-for percent||53.0||53.2|
Stats courtesy of Corsica.Hockey and NaturalStatTrick.
Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI.
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