Published: Fri, April 14, 2017
Sport | By Fredrick Flores

First night of playoffs teaches lesson to young Maple Leafs

First night of playoffs teaches lesson to young Maple Leafs

Washington Capitals left wing Marcus Johansson (90) pressures Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Matt Hunwick (2) during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL Stanley Cup first round playoff series in Washington, Thursday, April 13, 2017.

There was no sign of nerves from the start on Thursday night and for nearly two periods and then parts of a third, the young Leafs had the Washington Capitals, the NHL's best team in the regular season but one with a shaky playoff past, nervous and on the ropes. Leafs head coach Mike Babcock is hopeful he will return for Game 2. I'm glad that he said I worked hard. You need to seriously pump the brakes a little bit. "And I don't think it's something that's intimidating to anybody, it's more of a fact - they have a lot on their plate, finishing where they have. He had a lot of time, and he just got it up quick".

Playoff star and 2014 Conn Smythe Trophy victor Justin Williams scored twice in regulation and Braden Holtby stopped 35 of the 37 shots he faced to give Wilson the opportunity to be the hero.

A Toronto native and first-round pick in 2012, Wilson swiped a Martin Marincin clearing attempt along the boards and quickly fired on Andersen, his shot beating the goaltender high for the win.

Minus: The Capitals allowed the young Maple Leafs to complete dominate the first ten minutes of play and spot themselves a two goal lead to defend.

The Marner line also set the stage for the Gardiner 2-0 goal, pinning the Caps' top line in its own zone before the Kadri line came over the boards and scored on the exhausted Ovechkin unit. But late in the second, an opportunistic Williams tied the game. "I think we've surprised a lot of teams this year".

Playing hockey as a kid in Toronto, Tom Wilson often imagined what it would be like to score a game-winning goal in the playoffs.

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"They're a heck of a team, but I also think we're no slouch either", Gardiner said. "That's what leaders do".

The Leafs were very competitive tonight overall, but Washington definitely has another level to find from what we saw in Game #1. Last night it was the Edmonton Oilers losing to the San Jose Sharks, 3-2. Growing up a fan of Maple Leafs players like Darcy Tucker, Ed Belfour, Curtis Joseph, Shayne Corson and Mats Sundin, he never envisioned scoring this kind of goal against his boyhood team.

"I don't know 100 percent for sure", Babcock said Wednesday. "So let's just go out there and play".

With time evaporating in the final frame Alex Ovechkin tried his best to fire home a buzzer beater but another strong glovehand save from Anderson forced the game to extra time.

The Presidents' Trophy winners secured a 3-2 overtime victory in the series opener thanks to a Tom Wilson goal.

The 19-year-old Marner, who scored 19 goals and 61 points in 77 games in his rookie season, said he and his young teammates were calm entering the game.

It had looked like a long night for the Leafs off the opening draw, as the ad hoc defence pair of Jake Gardiner and Roman Polak were pushed back and Dmitri Orlov got a hot point shot away to force an Andersen glove save. Ovi, Nicky, Osh, Kuzy - there are other guys they have to worry about. Disappointing to Maple Leafs fans, but not shocking. We did what we wanted to do, come back from two goals. Little did Horachek realize at the time that this brutal loss would be an accurate barometer of the weeks and months to come for his brief time behind the Leaf bench.

Colin Wilson - The Predators winger was out of the Game One lineup against Chicago due to a lower-body injury.

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