January 28, 2021

Washington Capitals Game 39 Recap: Caps find redemption against Leafs in high-scoring affair

The Washington Capitals rode into frosty Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night red-hot. Coming into the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Capitals lost just one regulation game over their past fourteen, a 10-1-3 record since Dec. 4.

With a sugar high from last week’s exciting Winter Classic victory and a home win against the Florida Panthers on Sunday afternoon, the Capitals continue to enjoy a great start to 2015. Their year continued rolling along with a 6-2 blowout win against the Leafs, a dominating performance that exacted revenge for their 6-2 loss in Air Canada Centre on Nov. 29.

First period: All defense, as the Capitals managed just four shots on goal against a Leafs team that had been leaky on defense all season long. For their part, the Leafs managed just seven. Braden Holtby continued to show his prowess in net with a couple of fantastic save sequences.

  • At 5:10, Marcus Johansson connected on a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov, a wrist shot that sailed past Leafs’ goalie Jonathan Bernier and off the inside post.
  • Late in the first, Troy Brouwer attempted a blind, soft, backhanded pass from the defensive half-wall into the slot. Fortunately, Holtby was stellar gloving Daniel Winnik’s shot.

Second period: The game opened up offensively, with a combined 26 shots on goal. Both sides created opportunities from defensive lapses and lucky bounces.

  • At 4:49 in the period, Winnik positioned himself to deflect a slap shot from Cody Franson to put the Leafs on the board, tying the game 1-1.
  • Momentum was starting turn against the Caps when Nicklas Backstrom drew a holding penalty, but Jay Beagle took advantage of the weak Leafs backcheck, and his slick pass from the goal line set up a shorthanded goal for Eric Fehr at 6:20.
  • At 8:58, right off a face-off draw, Brooks Laich fired a wrist shot that deflected off Frandson’s stick, which ricocheted past Bernier for a 3-1 Caps’ lead.
  • The Leafs’ persistent offense paid off at 16:08, when veteran Trevor Smith crashed the net and put a rebound past Holtby to bring it to 3-2.
  • The Caps responded immediately when Johansson tallied his second goal of the night at 16:50. Johansson, on a pass from Carlson, sniped it right past Bernier.

Third period: The offense nosedived again as the Caps opted to defend their lead, playing conservatively to keep the Leafs from gaining any scoring opportunities. The Caps had just eight shots on goal, preferring to hold back and tie up the Leafs in the neutral zone. With the Caps stingy defense, the Leafs were unable to sustain pressure in the Caps zone and were easily turned away by Holtby.

  • Fehr put the nail in the coffin at 11:20. Receiving a flip pass from Carlson on the rush, Fehr fired a snapshot top-shelf on Bernier’s side, making it 5-2 Caps.
  • Ovechkin scored his 20th goal of the season at 19:33 on an empty-netter.

Final takeaways: Although it started off slow, the Caps offense roared to life in the second period.  Importantly, they found ways to respond when the Leafs were able to get on the board. Fehr and Johansson got a pair of goals from beautiful shots that ripped past Bernier on the high blocker side.

The defense, Mike Green particularly, was impressive in turning away the Leafs at center ice, neutralizing any offensive drives. Holtby, starting his 16th consecutive game, was terrific in net, helping the Caps defense out with some critical saves.


  1. […] than two months ago: 6-2. (Stars and Sticks, S&S Three Stars, Japers Rink, Dump ‘N Chase, District Sports Page, Frankovic, CSN Washington, NHL.com, RMNB) More From Capitals […]

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