First night of playoffs teaches lesson to young Maple Leafs

Wayne Gretzky speaks to the media before the Toronto Maple Leafs played the Detroit Red Wings during the NHL Centennial Classic in Toronto. The significance of budding young stars Connor Mc David and Auston Matthews

Along with nine Toronto players, Connolly will finally make his playoff debut on Thursday night when the Capitals open their first-round series against the Maple Leafs.

Minus: The Capitals allowed the young Maple Leafs to complete dominate the first ten minutes of play and spot themselves a two goal lead to defend.

"They have some expectations on them", former Capital and current Leaf Connor Carrick told the team's website.

In the past decade, Washington has won seven division titles but hasn't advanced beyond the conference semifinals. They combined for two goals in 94 previous playoff games.

"When you look at his game versus a lot of other guys that are goal-scorers, especially at young ages, a lot of guys cheat offensively", Orpik said. It also got many of them excited for what's to come. When things maybe aren't going the way you want to, I think he's a real calming influence and I think that's what experience does.

Despite the Washington Capitals winning the President's Trophy as the top regular-season team for the second straight season while boasting the always risky duo of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, fans are nervous. And there was the shot that has helped Alex Ovechkin score 176 more regular-season goals than anyone since his entrance into the National Hockey League in 2005. "I think if we can limit our turnovers, keep the puck heading north, that benefits us". The only thing left to do is to review the player's statistics.

"I asked them if they watched", Babcock said.

The American's injury status has been up in the air since he missed the final four contests of the regular season.

However, the Leafs will be without top-pair defenseman Nikita Zaitsev.

"I don't know 100 percent for sure", Babcock said about the timetable for Zaitsev, who skated this year on the top defensive pairing.

"It hit my stick weird and I thought it went over the net, behind the net", said Andersen, who finished with 41 saves and kept his team close even as the pendulum swung noticeably in the Capitals direction.

Mitch Marner scored a goal, nearly had a second.

Playing some of their worst hockey of the season, the Capitals fell behind by two goals early but came back to force overtime. They extended that lead with Jake Gardiner's point shot with traffic up front by Nazem Kadri. Rielly will probably replace Zaitsev on the second power play unit and Martin Marincin will be take over Hunwick's penalty killing responsibility alongside Roman Polak.

Entering this season, the Capitals franchise has had 26 playoff appearances.

Washington Capitals right wing Justin Williams (14) scores against Washington Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer (31) in front of center William Nylander (29) during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL Stanley Cup first round pl. "I like the youthful enthusiasm we have, I like how quick we can play".

Rookie sensation Auston Matthews, however, has given the Maple Leafs hope for ending their 50-year championship search with a Stanley Cup.

The Leafs held Ovechkin to one goal and three points in three games this season, but the Caps still won twice with 12 different players scoring at least once. "He got us a big couple goals and fought hard all game".

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