Four-Goal Second Period Helps Toronto Torch Capitals, 5-1, In Tavares’ 1,000th Game; Backstrom Scores First Goal Of Season

Photo: @Capitals

The Washington Capitals lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 5-1 at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday evening as their lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have three games in hand on them, for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference remains at one point. Washington also has a two-point lead over the Buffalo Sabres (three) in the wild-card race.

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper made 16 saves on 20 shots (.800 save percentage) in the loss before Charlie Lindgren, who stopped six of seven (.857), took the net with 5:40 left in the second period.

Capitals’ Lines at Toronto

Alex Ovechkin – Dylan Strome – T.J. Oshie
Sonny Milano – Nicklas Backstrom – Marcus Johansson
Anthony Mantha – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Conor Sheary
Nicolas Aube-Kubel – Lars Eller – Garnet Hathaway

Erik Gustafsson – Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Dmitry Orlov – Nick Jensen
Matt Irwin – Martin Fehervary


Scratched: D Alexander Alexeyev, C Aliaksei Protas

Injured: D John Carlson (face, missed 16th straight game, out indefinitely); RW Connor Brown (ACL, 48th, indefinite); LW Carl Hagelin (hip, 52nd, indefinite); C Nic Dowd (lower-body, sixth, indefinite); RW Tom Wilson (lower-body, second, day-to-day)

Washington made no line changes from their 3-2 shootout win over Pittsburgh on Thursday. Head coach Peter Laviolette tied former Toronto head coach Pat Quinn for the 12th-most games coached in NHL history and coached his 1,400th career game.

Toronto’s Lines

Michael Bunting — John Tavares — Mitch Marner
Calle Jarnkrok — Alexander Kerfoot — William Nylander
Pierre Engvall— David Kampf — Joey Anderson
Zach Aston-Reese — Pontus Holmberg — Wayne Simmonds

Morgan Rielly — T.J. Brodie
Mark Giordano — Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin — Timothy Liljegren

Ilya Samsonov
Joseph Woll

Scratched: D Connor Timmins, D Jordie Benn

Injured: C Auston Matthews (knee sprain, second, week-to-week); D Jake Muzzin (cervical spine, 46th, indefinite); C Nick Robertson (shoulder, 23rd, season); G Matt Murray (ankle, second, indefinite), D Victor Mete (upper-body, 24th, indefinite)

Tavares played his 1,000th career NHL game on Sunday.

First Period


17:17, 1-0 Washington (PPG): Backstrom received a feed by Johansson from down low and ripped a wrister over the arm of Samsonov, who was screened by Johansson in front, at the right dot for his first goal of the season. Eight of Johansson’s 13 helpers this season have come on the man advantage.

Shots: 10-7 Toronto

Other Notable Stats: Each team earned four takeaways but Washington led 11-8 in hits and Toronto, who won 67% of the faceoffs, held a 7-6 advantage in blocked shots.

Second Period


1:29, 1-1 (PPG): Bunting tapped a rebound in front that slid through the legs of Jensen to the left post after Kuemper turned aside Tavares’ wrister from the slot.

7:00, 2-1 Toronto: Reilly snapped a shot under the crossbar after Tavares shoveled a puck out of a board battle and sent the puck right to Reilly on the backhand in front of the net.

10:45, 3-1: Nylander backhanded a rebound through the wickets of Kuemper after Gustafsson broke up a three-on-one passing play and Bunting got a stick on the puck to put it in Kuemper’s wheelhouse.

14:20, 4-1: Engvall wristed a shot to the top corner on Kuemper glove-side after circling the curling down the offensive zone and getting a feed by Brodie from the top. Kuemper was pulled in favor of Lindgren after the goal.

Shots: 23-19 Toronto (including 13-12 in the second)

Other Notable Stats: Toronto won 58% of the faceoffs and led 9-5 in takeaways. Washington, who had three power plays in the first 40 minutes, led 33-19 in hits. Each team earned eight giveaways.

Third Period


16:47, 5-1: Aston-Reese was sent in on a breakaway, went to the backhand, and put one into a wide open net after Nylander sent him in behind Gustafsson.

Shots: 27-24 Toronto (but 5-4 Washington in the third)

Other Notable Stats: Toronto led 14-8 in blocked shots, 12-6 in takeaways, and scored once on two power plays. Washington, who finished with four power play opportunities, led 40-28 in hits. Both teams tallied 10 giveaways.

Next game: Tuesday at Columbus Blue Jackets (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington in-market, ESPN+ out-of-market)

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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16 Responses to Four-Goal Second Period Helps Toronto Torch Capitals, 5-1, In Tavares’ 1,000th Game; Backstrom Scores First Goal Of Season

  1. novafyre says:

    Usual “hot goalie’ excuse? This was worse than the Bears loss. Using points percentage, Caps are 13 teams behind Toronto and it showed.

    • Diane Doyle says:

      Then again, EVERY goalie facing the Caps these days is a hot goalie, except for Arizona’s goalie. It seems the Caps definitely have problems in shooting these days. Frankly, I am not feeling bullish on the Caps’ playoff chances and feel that Buffalo and/or Florida may soon pass them up in points.

  2. Anonymous says:

    That second period was a nightmare. I think they are really missing Dowd, Carlson and Wilson at this stage. They’ve figured out ways to get by in the past, but it feels like that luck has run out, and better teams are beating the Caps.

  3. Jim Lash says:

    We better not be buyers at the trade deadline. We will not get out of the first round IF we even make it there. Enough mortgaging this teams future on a hope and a prayer. Start the rebuild NOW.

  4. Brant says:

    I’m not sure why I feel so calm through all of this.

    When our system is in full force and we are scoring goals, we look unplayable. When have we ever done anything in the post season when we have been playing well before the All-Star break? One minor roster tweak and we see what we were seeing weeks ago.

    I really hope fans don’t forget about all the voices calling for Trotz’s head in 2018.

    Side Note: Jon, is there a way we can see Mantha’s percentage of 50/50 pucks won? Grr..

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Good points, Brant. A lot of hockey to be played, key players still out. And a great analogy with Trotz. Heck I received a ton of heat saying the Caps were still in it, trailing Tampa 3-2 in the conference final.

      Also, I’ll give your request regarding Mantha some thought, see how we can look at that with the data available.

  5. Lance says:

    Easter is coming and the Caps are laying eggs!

    The NHL salary cap system and the expansion to 32 teams has created a league of mostly mediocre teams. It’s almost impossible to build a great team now. GMs don’t have the flexibility to make many significant trades. You have to hit the jackpot in the draft, make a few shrewd pickups, have great coaching, swap out future salary cap headaches, have good goalies.

    BMac hasn’t been great at the draft so far. He has made some shrewd pickups (Orpik, Niskanen, Oshie, DSP, Eller, Connolly, I liked Spronger, Strome, Milano is ok). Coaching has been so-so. He could’ve made better choices with the goalies after winning the Cup.

    In any case, I enjoy watching them for the most part. I think the NHL salary cap system is far too constricting at present.

    • Lance says:

      BMac has been just ok with managing salaries. I can’t think of any contracts that are total losses now. Remember Dmitry Mironov? There are some brutal contracts out there now. We have a few heavy ones but no total disasters.

      • franky619 says:

        Backstrom is a total disaster. Not only for he brings or does’nt bring bu also for all the players that were not resigned or traded to fit his atrocious contract. That’s how you ruin a team and it could all have been avoided. Next 2 years are’nt gonna be any better.

        • Mark Eiben says:

          I never liked that extension. He was 32 or 33 at the time (dumb) and I was expecting 1 to 1.5 million less per year in salary than what he gave him. B Mac lost his mind during that negotiation and it’s a bad contract now. #19 gets even bigger bonus money next year and the year after (18 million total for last 2 years) and he ain’t going to be a better player in the last two sorry.

          • Lance says:

            Nick’s contract is pretty nuts but the thought was that if Nick leaves Ovie might leave. So I don’t mind that one. And if Nick can’t play he’ll go on LTIR and the Caps will get that salary cap relief. He’s still a 2C if healthy enough to play.

        • Anonymous says:

          Lance what is your proposal to the salary cap? Make it a soft cap like the MLB and NBA? then you will constantly have teams that are absolutely terrible because the owners don’t want to spend past the Cap. The NBA roster is significantly smaller than and NHL roster. The NFL doesn’t have fully guaranteed contracts and also has a bigger roster. I think the biggest issue is the flat cap and GM’s not managing the roster respectively.

          franky619: This team isn’t in a cap crisis next year like many of the teams. This team currently has 11 UFA’s at the end of the year. Way easier to retool with all that cap space and honestly in a better position than most teams that are on the edge of a playoff spot. With almost half the roster as UFA’s this team will be up there in regards to available caps space this offseason.

          • Lance says:

            I don’t think there’s a way to fix the league/salary cap with 32 teams. Too many teams. There are too many players. In the 70s and 80s teams loaded up on talent. Gretzky to Coffey to Messier to Anderson to Khuri and he SCORES!

            I had the thought of a flexible salary cap. Over 5 years you can be 25% over 3 years out of 5 but you have to be 25% under the other 2 out of 5. That kind of thing.

          • franky619 says:

            If they want to compete they are in a salary cap crisis, they will need a couple top 6 winger. By the end of the year they may very well have only one 20+ goal scorer, a 37 yrs old Ovy. Defense also needs an upgrade and it’s not as if the Caps had the best prospect pool, forward or defense. Wilson will need a raise, Orlov will also demand more money or he will get it somewhere else. This team might be fighting for a playoff spot, but it’s only because Ovy carried them. If it was’nt for Ovy, they’d be leading the Connor Bedard sweepstake.

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