Final score: Washington Capitals 3, Toronto Maple Leafs 4
How it happened: The Caps’ top line showed up ready to play on Monday helping Washington jump out to an early 2-0 lead. Nicklas Backstrom finished off a rush with Nate Schmidt and later fed Alex Ovechkin for a one-time goal that left Air Canada Centre silent. Toronto would respond later in the period, however, as Auston Matthews would take advantage of an odd deflection to score the first playoff goal of his career. Evgeny Kuznetsov netted a rebound goal to extend the lead to 3-1, but the Leafs came roaring back with a deflection goal from Connor Brown. William Nylander tied the game before the end of the second period as he was left all alone in front of the net and was able to collect the rebound off his initial shot for the goal. Both held of the scoreboard in the third leading to yet another overtime game. Lars Eller took a high-sticking penalty with just 15 seconds left in regulation giving the Leafs a power play to start overtime. They would cash in as Tyler Bozak scored the game-winner just 1:37 into overtime.
What it means: Toronto is giving the Caps everything they can handle and now shockingly hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to take a 3-1 stranglehold at home on Wednesday. Washington’s back is against the wall now as the winner of Game 3 after a 1-1 split goes on to win the series 67.6-percent of the time.
Caps goal: Nicklas Backstrom from Nate Schmidt and T.J. Oshie at 2:43 in the 1st period. Toronto dumped the puck behind the Caps’ net, but John Carlson cut off Auston Matthews with the body allowing Oshie to get the puck. He passed it up to Oshie whow fed it up to Backstrom and the break was on. Backstrom fed Schmidt back who joined the rush and Schmidt returned the favor with a backhand pass to Backstrom in the slot for the goal. Caps 1, Maple Leafs 0
Caps goal: Alex Ovechkin from Nicklas Backstrom and T.j. Oshie at 4:49 in the 1st period. The Caps’ forecheck pressured the Leafs behind their own net forcing the turnover. Oshie took the puck and fed Backstrom with the backhand who set up Ovechkin for the one-timer. Caps 2, Maple Leafs 0
Maple Leafs goal: Auston Matthews from Morgan Rielly at 14:08 in the 1st period. Two big hits from Nazem Kadri seemed to ignite the Leafs as they made a push on net. Matthews skated the puck into the offensive zone and fired a shot that deflected off of Carlson’s stick and off of Schmidt’s face. Everyone seemed to lose sight of the puck as a result of the odd deflection except for Matthews who collected it off his chest and crashed the net for the goal. Caps 2, Maple Leafs 1
Caps goal: Evgeny Kuznetsov from Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson at 5:39 in the 2nd period. Kuznestov entered the offensive zone and handed the puck off to Johansson. Johansson let a shot go that was easily kicked aside by Frederik Andersen, but it went right to Kuznetsov who netted the sharp angle shot. Caps 3, Maple Leafs 1
Maple Leafs goal: Connor Brown from Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov at 15:13 in the 2nd period. The Leafs weren’t masking what their strategy was. They kepty corralling the puck down low and kicking it to the point for the shot. After Caps 3, Maple Leafs 2
Maple Leafs goal: William Nylander from Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman at 19:20 in the 2nd period. Hyman dumped the puck behind the Caps net and four Caps players chased after it. That left Nylander all alone in front of the net for a behind the back pass from Matthews. Braden Holtby made the initial save, but Nylander collected the rebound and fired it past the now helpless netminder. Caps 3, Maple Leafs 3
Maple Leafs goal: Tyler Bozak (power play) from Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly at 1:37 in overtime. Caps 3, Maple Leafs 4
3 Caps stars
1. Nicklas Backstrom: When it looked like the Caps were going to blow the Leafs out of the water, Backstrom scored the first goal of the game then added an assist to set up Ovechkin on the one-timer.
2. Nate Schmidt: Every time he gets into the lineup, he makes an impact. Less than three minutes into the game, he feeds Backstrom for the opening goal, registering an assist on the play.
3. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin scored the one-time goal early helping lead his line to a great start.
Look ahead: The series stays in Toronto for Game 4 on Wednesday then returns to Washington for Game 5 on Friday. Should the Caps win either of those games, it will force at least a Game 6 in Toronto on Sunday.
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