Capitals Hold off Late Maple Leafs Rally, Win 4-3

1176264020_slidePatrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images

After a lopsided loss to Andre Burakovsky and the Colorado Avalanche on Monday evening, the Capitals looked to bounce back with a better performance against a Toronto Maple Leafs team playing the second of a back-to-back on Wednesday night, and did just that, downing the Maple Leafs, 4-3, backed by a banner night for defenseman John Carlson.


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After Braden Holtby allowed three goals on three shots in the first period of the team’s loss to Colorado, rookie netminder Ilya Samsonov was called in to replace him for the rest of the game. Samsonov was the first netminder off the ice for the Caps during morning skate and got the nod (his first home start at Capital One Arena) for Head Coach Todd Reirden in Wednesday night’s contest against Toronto. The Leafs countered Samsonov with Michael Hutchinson.


Some sustained pressure in the offensive zone by offseason addition Brendan Leipsic drew a penalty to give the Caps an early power play opportunity with just under three minutes gone by in the opening frame. Despite the man-advantage, the Caps’ lackluster power play saw Kasperi Kapanen give the Leafs an early 1-0 lead with 15 seconds left on the home team’s man-advantage. The power play would end without a goal from the Caps but Kapanen’s first of the season at the 4:37 mark (assisted by Trevor Moore) gave the visitors the edge.

Toronto would strike again just over six minutes later, as after some chances for the Caps on Hutchinson, Ilya Mikheyev picked up the puck and found himself alone in on Samsonov, firing the puck past the Capitals’ young netminder for his third of the season and the Leafs’ second of the game to give the visitors a 2-0 advantage over the Capitals.

The Capitals, however, would answer with 1:01 left in the period, as a nice transition into the offensive zone by red-hot defenseman John Carlson and offseason addition Garnet Hathaway led to a beauty of a pass from Carlson to Jakub Vrana who, one-timed the puck past Hutchinson to cut the visitors’ deficit in half.  The Caps would keep the pressure up before the buzzer sounded. The Capitals and Maple Leafs headed into the first intermission down 2-1 on the scoreboard and leading in shots, 12-11.


Like in the first period, the Capitals were gifted an early power play (their second of the game) after Hathaway was tripped down in front of Hutchinson in the offensive zone. The home team would once again fail to convert with the man-advantage.

The Capitals would knot the game up at two apiece at the 5:07 mark of the second frame on a goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov, who showed his characteristic skillful patience on Hutchinson before putting a backhander neatly behind him, with assists on the goal coming from Carlson and Carl Hagelin.

Nicklas Backstrom would strike just 11 seconds later on a nifty feed from T.J. Oshie.

The Capitals would find themselves with a 5-on-3 power play after Toronto’s Cody Ceci was called for a Delay of Game Penalty just nine seconds after Nicholas Shore was called for interference on Oshie. Carlson would score his third goal of the season and his third point of the game to that point on a beautiful feed from Alex Ovechkin, with Backstrom also picking up an assist.

The Capitals would fail to convert on the remaining time of Shore’s penalty. The rest of the period would see the Capitals sustain pressure on the Leafs, with the period ending with the home team up 4-2 on the scoreboard and 24-19 in shots. The Caps converted on one of the power play opportunities in the period and through 40 minutes, outhit the Maple Leafs 25-9.


The start of the third frame saw both teams exchange chances, and the Capitals losing both defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler and forward Richard Panik to upper-body injuries, after the two teammates collided with one another in the defensive zone. Per the team, they will be re-evaluated tomorrow.

The Capitals would get their fifth power play of the game with 9:50 left in the final frame, as Auston Matthews was nicked for slashing, giving the home team yet another chance to convert on the man-advantage. The Caps would get just one shot and failed to convert. The Leafs would receive their first man-advantage of the game with 6:56 left in the final frame as Carl Hagelin was called for hooking. The Caps held the visitors to one shot on the power play, managing to kill the penalty off in the process.

With Hutchinson pulled an errant pass by Alex Ovechkin intended for Nicklas Backstrom found its way to Jake Muzzin, who pushed the puck to Toronto captain John Tavares, who fired the puck past Samsonov to cut the deficit to one. The Capitals would hold the Maple Leafs’ last attempts to tie to secure a 4-3 win and the first win at Capital One Arena this season.

– John Carlson’s second period goal was the 417th point of his Capitals/NHL career, moving him past Sergei Gonchar for fourth on the Capitals’ All-Time Scoring List for Defenseman.
– Ilya Samsonov stopped 29 of 32 shots (.906 save percentage) in his first home start at Capital One Arena
– Per the Capitals, Carlson is the first defenseman in the history of the franchise to record 14 points through the team’s first eight games and joins Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin as the only players ever to record at least 14 points in the first eight games of the season

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. Michael joined the NoVa Caps team in 2015, and is most proud of the growth of the NoVa Caps community in that time. An avid photographer, Michael resides in VA.
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