Lucas Viveiros | Report

In a matchup between two skidding teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs were able to hand the defending Stanley Cup Champion, Washington Capitals their seventh straight loss in 6-3 fashion on Wednesday. 

Nazem Kadri and William Nylander lead the way on offense for the Buds, with a hat-trick, as well as an assist for the former, and three assists for the latter.

Despite the loss, one of hockey’s all time great’s, Alex Ovechkin had a night to remember, tying old teammate Sergei Fedorov for the most points scored by a Russian in NHL history.

Washington started the game looking dangerous as usual, as Evgeny Kuznetsov nearly squeaked a hard snapshot through the legs of Freddy Andersen just over four minutes into the opening period.

Following the big stop, the Capitals would respond with more relentless pressure in the Maple Leafs end, and eventually they would be rewarded with a power-play tally at 18:47 of the first. Nicklas Backstrom would be the recipient of the goal, tucking the puck past Andersen at the back door to give Washington the 1-0 lead.

Toronto would quickly respond before the end of the period however, as a new look line following the penalty kill of Kadri, Nylander and Tavares would bury one past Holtby to tie the game at one’s. The goal came off of a dump in by Morgan Rielly, deflecting off the skate of William Nylander and bouncing loose in the crease for Kadri to push it home.

Washington would restore their lead 3:51 into the second on a bomb of slap-shot by Alex Ovechkin, showing off a vintage goal by the ‘Great 8’ to put Toronto back on their heels.

Another Russian would find the scoresheet about 10 minutes later, as Nikita Zaitsev would fine the twine on a screenshot to even the game 2-2, scoring his first of the season. The goal was really created by William Nylander’s perseverance, after he was crushed along the boards by Caps d-man Matt Niskanen which created the space for Zaitsev to get the shot off.

Toronto would then even the special team’s battle with a gorgeous Auston Matthews finish, deking around John Carlson and whipping the shot through the wickets of Holtby to give Toronto the 3-2 advantage heading into the third.

Nazem Kadri would then provide the spark the Leafs needed to secure this much needed victory before the All-Star break with two goals in the third. First just 2:10 into the final period, Kadri would play a give and go with linemate Connor Brown, receiving a tape-to-tape pass and slapping the one-timer home to give Toronto a 4-2 lead.

Then, Kadri would be the recipient of some luck, as after Nylander dropped a pass for Connor Brown, Brown would fire a shot off both posts and result in the puck bouncing right to Kadri’s stick. Kadri would fire the biscuit into the yawning cage to make the score 5-2 and complete the hat-trick.

Matt Niskanen would get one back with under three minutes to play, but Mitch Marner would score an empty net goal to secure the victory at 6-3.

Revisit the game’s highlights below.

Up next, the Maple Leafs will dress new comer Jake Muzzin in a clash with the Detroit Red Wings this upcoming Friday.

Muzzin was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings on January 28th, in exchange for Carl Grundstrom, Sean Durzi and the Leafs first-round pick in the 2019 NHL draft, and is expected to step right into the team’s top pair along side Morgan Rielly.

Game time is set for 7:30pm from Little Caesars Arena, and can be viewed on TSN4.

More news from the ice

  • Alex Ovechkin recorded his 1,179th career point, equaling Sergei Fedorov for the most points in NHL history scored by Russian-born players
  • Kadri’s hat-trick was the fifth of his career, becoming the 12th player in franchise history to record five + hat-trick’s as a member of the Maple Leafs
  • Jake Gardiner missed his second straight contest with back spasms
  • New addition Jake Muzzin has the most playoff series wins among current Leafs blue liners with six
  • Check out some additional coverage below on the Muzzin trade

Out of town scoreboard

Wednesday, January 23

Arizona 1 Montreal 2

Minnesota 5 Colorado 2

Nashville 2 Vegas 1

St. Louis 5 Anaheim 1

Carolina 5 Vancouver 2

More coverage to follow. Image from the Ottawa Citizen. 

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