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After taking a nail-biting 3-2 win in Game 1 of their first round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Capitals followed that up a heartbreaking 4-3 double overtime loss in Game 2 on the 30th anniversary of the infamous Easter Epic thriller.
After starting Game 1 slowly and poorly, the Capitals started Game 2 on a much higher note. The opening frame saw both teams exchange quality scoring chances, with both teams coming within inches of taking the lead. With 2:26 left to play, Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk put the puck past Caps netminder Braden Holtby, taking advantage of a massive pile up of players in front of the Washington net. Toronto held the advantage in shots through 20 minutes of play, 14-8, while both teams matched each other physically, with both teams even at 14 apiece. The Maple Leafs also held the lead in faceoff wins, as they won 57% of the draws compared to the Capitals’ 43%. Despite four power plays between them (three for the Leafs, one for the Caps), neither team was able to convert.
After heading into the second frame down 1-0, the Caps came out buzzing with a quick power play goal from captain Alex Ovechkin, his first of the postseason. T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson were credited with the assists on the goal. The Capitals then took a 2-1 lead on a bullet from the point from defenseman John Carlson. The Caps sustained excellent momentum until Maple Leafs youngster Kasperi Kapanen scored on a backhanded shot in front of Braden Holtby. Capitals defenseman Toronto defenseman Roman Polak was injured after a huge, but clean hit from Brooks Orpik. Despite a Coach’s Challenge that appeared to be a good one, the call of a good goal was upheld. With 13.1 seconds left in the second, Morgan Reilly scored on a power play that was the result of a Dmitry Orlov tripping penalty. Despite an early barrage of pressure, the Maple Leafs were able to hold onto the lead in shots, 23-20. The Leafs continued to dominate on faceoffs, as they finished the second period having won 61% of the game’s draws, while the Caps only managed a mediocre 39%.
After finishing the second period down 3-2, they came out of the locker room storming in the final period. With a strong shift from the Capitals’ top-line, superstar center Nicklas Backstrom put in a rebound past Frederik Andersen to knot the game at 3-3. The score would remain that way through the rest of regulation, and the game headed to overtime for the second game in a row. The Caps outshot the Leafs 14-8 in the final frame.
For the second straight game, the Capitals and Maple Leafs headed to overtime. Despite many good chances by both the Caps and Leafs, and a breakaway chance by Alex Ovechkin, the Caps and Leafs headed to double overtime.
After heading to double overtime on the anniversary of the infamous Easter Epic game, both the Caps and Maple Leafs traded chance after chance, Kasperi Kapanen’s second of the game beat Holtby to tie the series at one apiece.
By Michael Fleetwood