The Toronto Maple Leafs gave both their fans and the Washington Capitals a hard ride in their first playoff game in four years - with diehards suffering the stress of an overtime game and then the agony of a 3-2 loss.
It was a long shot that seemed to catch Andersen off-guard and drifted into the top corner. He then made two terrific stops on Brooks Orpik and Andre Burakovksy early in the overtime period, the Leafs share of scoring opportunities slowing before Wilson's game-winner. You can argue he should have had that, but the shock factor apparently counts for a lot.
On Thursday night, Wilson responded on the ice, by firing off a shot in OT that sailed right past goalie Fredirick Anderson, to earn the Capitals 3-2 Game 1 win.
"It was a confidence builder for sure".
"We showed we could play with these guys", Andersen said.
As overtime began, you could tell the gameplan for Toronto was to shoot the puck at the net from any angle. "It's playoff hockey for you".
"I just think we didn't come with any nerves", Marner said. There's a lot of threats in this room and I think that's all he was saying. "It 's the first period of what we expect to be a long series".
Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday night in Washington. He said "there's always some nervousness when you come into a game like this". Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner finished one, three and four, respectively, in rookie scoring. Also, the Babcock factor plays into this one as well. The overall game was much closer than anyone predicted. I think when I played for Mike, his kids were little.
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The Caps again were guilty of sloppy play in their own end on Gardiner's goal.
There's not great answer either way for the head coach, who guided the Leafs into their first post-season since 2013 and first in a full season since 2004. An incredulous Babcock couldn't use his coach's challenge fast enough and the goal stood. The Leafs proved to themselves that they can play with the best team in the league. It comes through, I get people sending me it and stuff. "It's only human", he said. A quick turnover, and I decided I was just going to rip it on net. A second and third effort, as habit. We didn't do a good job of taking that away. We were very resilient, obviously. "The more you see stuff like that happen the more you realize you've just got to take it one shift at a time and one day at a time".
Jake Gardiner celebrates his first period goal.
-Justin Williams on whether the veteran-filled Capitals were "tight with gusts up to nervous" to start Game 1 against the Maple Leafs. He also talked the team off the ledge. Braden Holtby, meanwhile, compiled another year of Vezina Trophy consideration. "That's what leaders do".
The Capitals came at the Leafs in waves in the third period, with the crowd roaring, but Andersen was rock solid, as he had been for the entire game. The Caps almost crumbled against a far inferior Philadelphia squad last season and Washington has been synonymous with falling short in the post-season ever since the Ovechkin epoch began.
While they held Alex Ovechkin and the Washington top line off the board, despite playing without top pairing defenceman Nikita Zaitsev, the Leafs struggled with Williams, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson as well as the Capitals bottom two lines. After a defensive zone faceoff win, the Leafs charged into the Capitals zone on a three-on-two. In saying that, they've got a lot of players that we'll concern ourselves with more.
Behind all of the work of the forwards and defence was an excellent Andersen.