Lucas Viveiros | Report
Six games in the Toronto Maple Leafs were finally able to receive depth scoring and timely goaltending, as the club went on to beat the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals 4-2 on Saturday night.
It was the greatest test the Maple Leafs have faced in the early going of the 2018-2019 season, as the other five games saw oppositions that failed to qualify for the post season a year ago (Montreal, Ottawa, Chicago, Dallas, and Detroit).
Babcock’s team did not get off to a great start however as it only took 18 seconds for the Caps to zip one past Andersen, as Chandler Stephenson buried a rebound off of a two-on-one with slick centre Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Under a minute later, while the Maple Leafs had the man advantage, another two-on-one presented itself for Washington, as Lars Eller sauced a pass over to Devante Smith-Pelly who was robbed by the glove of Frederik Andersen.
This would prove to be a huge moment in the contest, as Washington nearly grasped a two goal lead just over a minute into the hockey game.
Holtby proved he was dialled in as well, making a point blank stop to stone Zach Hyman of his first goal of the new campaign with eight minutes to play in the period.
After 20 the Capitals clawed onto a 1-0 lead, but Kasperi Kapanen would level the score three and a half minutes into the second period by deflecting a Ron Hainsey point shot and leaving Holtby with zero chance.
The lead would be given right back to the Capitals just over a minute later while John Tavares sat in the sin bin for a tripping infraction.
On the main advantage, Evgeny Kuznetsov would bury his fourth of the season on a perfectly placed snipe to make it 2-1 Washington.
Then, a furry of chances would ensue for both sides late in the period, but it was Leafs rookie Par Lindholm who potted his first National Hockey League goal after tipping in a beautiful feed from Jake Gardiner.
The game would be levelled at two heading into the third and awaited a hero to dictate the outcome.
Kasperi Kapanen nearly played that role, as he just missed sliding one by Holtby early in the period to give the Leafs the lead.
Josh Leivo would then get the monkey off his back six and a half minutes into the third, scoring his first of the season, as the Maple Leafs second power-play unit contributed with a clutch goal, putting them ahead in the contest 3-2.
Frederik Andersen would be called on in the third to make a few key stops on Jakub Vrana, John Carlson and T.J. Oshie and ultimately buy time for Auston Matthews to find the twine for the sixth straight game.
Matthews looked dangerous throughout the evening, but finally got one to fall on his stick due to a pretty passing play set up by Morgan Rielly and Kasperi Kapanen to net his 10th of the season, and seal the victory for the Buds.
Revisit all of the game’s highlights below.
The Maple Leafs now sit atop the Atlantic division, Eastern Conference, and the entirety of the NHL with a 5-1-0 record through six games and a total of 10 points.
Up next Toronto will return home to host the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.
Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. from Scotiabank Arena, and can be seen on Sportsnet.
More news from the ice
- Toronto has started the season 4-0-0 on the road for the first time since 1993
- The Maple Leafs have scored an NHL high 29 goals this season, but also are ranked 30th with 22 goals against
- Auston Matthews is the 15th player in NHL history to score 10 goals in his team’s first six games of a season
- If Auston Matthews scores on Monday vs the LA Kings he would set the Maple Leafs franchise record for longest goal-scoring streak to start a season (currently tied with Sweeney Schriner in 1944)
- At 96 assists, Mitch Marner is currently four assists shy of becoming the second youngest player in Maple Leafs history to record 100 career assists
Out of town scoreboard
Edmonton 2 NY Rangers 1
Vegas 1 Philadelphia 0
Los Angeles 1 Ottawa 5
Detroit 2 Boston 8
Carolina 5 Minnesota 4 (OT)
Pittsburgh 3 Montreal 4 (SO)
Columbus 2 Tampa Bay 8
Vancouver 3 Florida 2
NY Islanders 2 Nashville 5
Anaheim 3 Dallas 5
St. Louis 3 Chicago 4 (OT)
Buffalo 3 Arizona 0
Calgary 3 Colorado 2 (OT)
More coverage to follow. Image from CP24.