Leafs battle Capitals in first home playoff game since 2013

The Washington Capitals started the playoffs as the favorites to win the cup but now find themselves in serious trouble down 2-1 on the road. With the Leafs' bruised blueline taking another hit in Game 2, it's imperative for the Caps to spend more of the game's 60 minutes imposing their will than playing Toronto's game.

Toronto has trailed for fewer than four minutes in the series.

Washington head coach Barry Trotz spent his morning and post-game media sessions on Monday trying to convince the media that there really wasn't much a difference between the talent levels of both squads. "It's no different than what they went through the other night".

The Maple Leafs think they could just topple a giant in the first round. "I've lived where you're the underdog and you're not supposed to win and I've lived where you're the best team in hockey and you're supposed to win, and they're totally different". We'll get that sorted out. We've got to break through. "Their goaltender's playing good, and we've got good goaltending". For me, watching the regular season seemed nearly meaningless - just something to slog through before we got to the real action. "If we get the lead, we have to manage the puck and manage the game and be more simple out there". The 30-year-old's right leg crumpled awkwardly under his body after a collision with Caps defenceman Brooks Orpik.

Ottawa seemed to be cruising in the second period following Hoffman's second goal of the night off a power play to make it 3-0. "We'll know more - guys are in right now and we'll know more for sure after they've checked in. When you come back from injury it takes some time to feel good". Obviously, a real unfortunate situation for Roman. We've got lots of guys who play hard. In the minutes leading up to Backstrom's tying goal in the third period, the Capitals played their dominant offensive-zone puck possession game to a tee, wearing the Leafs down and out, and maintaining possession of the puck in the attack zone long enough to get a complete change in personnel while the five Leafs on the ice had all been on for more than a minute.

"And obviously now if you talk to our guys, our guys think they're a good hockey team", Babcock said after the latest victory, Toronto's first on home ice in the playoffs in almost four years. If (the Leafs are) playing well, they're happy. "I've seen a lot out of Ovechkin and Backstrom in this series, so you can't pin the blame on them for the failures of the past and the failures of this series right now". Schmidt drew the short straw and fell out of the regular lineup when the Capitals traded for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, but played well when needed towards the end of the stretch, including filling in while Shattenkirk was suspended. Even though you don't consider them veterans, they're veteran-like people with veteran-like habits because they do it right all the time. "They're different, believe me".

Jakob Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell scored first-period goals and John Gibson made 35 saves in the Ducks' 29th consecutive victory over the Flames at Honda Center since April 25, 2006, extending the longest such streak in National Hockey League history. "'You're too good of a hockey team'".

"Forget (game three) and move forward", Ovechkin said. Same as the first game.

I thought today was, for whatever reason - we were amped up to say the least. If they can handle it, there might be no better teaching atmosphere for a young team than the game's most dramatic stage. "This is going to be a battle of will and a battle of might, but I would rather go down swinging with my top-line players than not".

Leo Komarov gave a world-weary smile when asked how much he's enjoying knocking helmets against Alex Ovechkin every second night.

"He'll get you from behind", Trotz said. A fair bit of their goals have been amusing bounces, off Brooks Orpik's trousers (Kadri's goal on Monday night) or Schmidt's face, but you know what, that's hockey.

  • Julie Sanders