WASHINGTON (AP) When Frederik Andersen narrowly stopped Alex Ovechkin on the best chance the Washington Capitals got in the first overtime, Game 2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs dragged long into the night and into a second extra period.
After more than 90 minutes of hockey, Kasperi Kapanen scored the double OT winner as the Maple Leafs beat the Capitals 4-3 Saturday in the longest game of the playoffs so far. The Maple Leafs evened the series heading to Game 3 on Monday night in Toronto and have proven they can hang with Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington.
Kapanen beat Braden Holtby 11:53 into the second overtime on a feed from Brian Boyle after scoring in similar fashion in the second period on a pass from Matt Martin. The son of longtime NHL forward Sami Kapanen didn’t get called up until late March but scored in the Maple Leafs’ playoff clincher and is developing quite the reputation for making big plays.
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”I’ve got a lot of energy for sure,” Kapanen said. ”Two big goals and I think our team played really well today. We deserved to win and I’m just really happy about the outcome.”
Ovechkin was chased down by Mitch Marner on his breakaway late in the first OT, and Andersen was able to deflect the puck just wide of the post.
”Nobody said it’s gonna be easy series,” Ovechkin said. ”It’s OK. Nobody say we’re gonna win 4-0 and move forward. It’s a battle. They’re a good team.”
Though the series is tied, Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik said they probably didn’t deserve to win Game 1, either, surviving a scare when Tom Wilson scored in overtime. They’ve certainly tested Andersen plenty, but the Maple Leafs goaltender stopped 47 of the 50 shots he saw Saturday.
”He was by far our best player tonight,” said Toronto defenseman Jake Gardiner, who played a game-high 40:42. ”When a goalie gets hot like that, it makes it easier for us.”
Ovechkin, John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom scored in regulation for the Capitals, and Holtby finished with 47 saves. Washington fell behind in each of the first two games and will try to reverse that trend moving forward.
Toronto won’t have rugged defenseman Roman Polak for Game 3 or the rest of the playoffs after his gruesome right leg injury in the second period. Polak’s leg bent the wrong way on landing after a hit from Orpik, and he couldn’t put any weight on it. Coach Mike Babcock confirmed the veteran was done for the season.
Polak’s absence further depleted a blue line that was already without top-pairing defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, forcing Gardiner, Morgan Rielly (40:12), Matt Hunwick (35:19) and Martin Marincin (30:41) to play heavy minutes.
”As far as the minutes go, we’ll be fine,” Rielly said. ”We’ve got young legs.”
Even young legs were feeling the strain as the clock ticked away and fans at Verizon Center were warned about the Metro system closing at midnight. Kapanen’s goal beat that deadline to end a wacky game that featured 12 minor penalties, several post-whistle scrums and an overtime slashing penalty on Holtby.
”Obviously it’s tough, but it was fun,” Ovechkin said ”It’s a fun moment. That’s why we play 82 games, to be in this moment. I think we are mentally and physically ready. I think we have plenty of chances to score, but we didn’t. One goal and the game is over.”
One goal in each game has separated these teams that were 23 points apart in the regular season. Washington coach Barry Trotz said the talent discrepancy between the first and eighth seeds isn’t that much and that he believed the Maple Leafs belonged in the playoffs well before the series started.
Now everyone else realizes that, too.
”They’re a good, young team,” Holtby said. ”There’s no easy rounds.”
NOTES: Zaitsev skated on his own Saturday morning, and Babcock said the Russian would skate again Sunday before a determination was made about Game 3. If Zaitsev can’t go because of his upper-body injury, Alexey Marchenko would step into the lineup. … With the primary assist on Carlson’s goal, Justin Williams has points in six consecutive playoff games. … Marner has points in all five career games against Washington.
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