Wilson scores in OT as Caps survive scare to beat Leafs

Wilson scores in OT as Caps survive scare to beat Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs embark on their first round series against the Washington Capitals on Thursday as the decided underdog.

Mitch Marner - Toronto's roster of rookies made their National Hockey League playoff debuts, but Marner made the quickest impact, scoring a goal 1:35 into Game One at Washington.

Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg each had a goal and an assist, and Anaheim seized momentum from visiting Calgary with a Game 1 win in a first-round Western Conference playoff series.

Toronto's young players did not seem to be overwhelmed by the undeniable rise in the importance of every shift in the post-season.

The Capitals completed their comeback with a goal in overtime from Tom Wilson, but Andersen can't be blamed too heavily for his play.

Zaitsev not available for game 1. "And that's a big reason why he's part of our team". I'm glad that he said I worked hard, that's a compliment; I'll take that. We have good players, we're allowed to play high-level hockey.

Van Riemsdyk recalled wisdom he gleaned from perennial playoff performer and former Flyers teammate Chris Pronger.

Even with three Blackhawks in the area, Johansen managed to play the puck over to Forsberg in the high slot.

If the road team dropped the first two games of the series, for instance, "It's like 'So what?" McDavid, after missing the majority of his rookie season due to a collarbone injury, continues to impress as one of the NHL's most talented playmakers. After letting in a soft goal in the second period, Freddy Andersen was rock solid for the Leafs throughout the third period, making big save after big save, many of them with his dramatic glove hand. The Cobourg, Ont., native has appeared in 127 while winning three Cups and a Conn Smythe trophy as playoffs MVP.

Toronto's primary defensive tandem for handling Ovechkin and the Caps top line, which also includes Backstrom and Oshie, should be the relatively new combination of Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev, whose status is in question due to injury.

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Since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 1998, the Capitals have made 11 postseason appearances.

Gallant helped revive the Florida Panthers, leading them to a first-place finish in the Atlantic Division last season and becoming a coach-of-the-year finalist.

It gets thin beyond that.

It may be early to say the 31-year-old Ovechkin's Stanley Cup window is closing, but changes are coming.

"Yeah, they were loud all game", Marner said. If and when that happens, all the fans who spend irrational amounts of money to see series against the Capitals will be able to boast that they saw Auston Matthews first-ever home playoff game, even it was loss.

Or will the simple depth of Washington's talent be the difference? "I thought he was going to skate today, [but] he didn't skate today so obviously he wasn't ready to go". Ovi, Nicky, Osh, Kuzy - there are other guys they have to worry about.

Babcock said there would be "pain" when he was hired as coach two seasons back.

Can the Capitals - in the year of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Cubs and Sergio Garcia - begin a run that will erase years of playoff disappointments? Whether or not we're a championship team, we're going to wait and see, but we're going to give it everything we've got. Washington is loaded across the board as they have so much depth offensively, a very underrated and serviceable blue line, and a goaltender in Braden Holtby who is the reigning Vezina Trophy victor and should be finalist for the award again this season as the league's top goaltender.

"You're going to get your matchup in the playoffs, and you try to beat the line you're up against", Boyle said.

Frederik Andersen struggled as a rookie in his playoff debut. Or if you're still upset that Columbus wouldn't trade Rick Nash to us like five years ago.

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