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Takeaways: Ovechkin Hurt As Rough Third Period Sinks Capitals vs. Leafs

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Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin

WASHINGTON, D.C. — T.J. Oshie was blunt as he reflected on the Washington Capitals’ performance in the final 10 minutes of regulation in Sunday’s tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs, which proved costly in a number of ways.

Washington lost Alex Ovechkin to injury early in the final frame, and despite getting two goals to jump out to a 3-1 lead, the Capitals would turn over the puck and make costly errors in their own end that allowed the Leafs to tie the game and force extra time. Ultimately, Toronto prevailed with a 4-3 shootout victory.

“It’s tough, it’s frustrating. That’s a game we can’t lose,” head coach Peter Laviolette said. “We were doing all the right things and we let it off the hook at the end. So that’s on us.”

Washington is now 44-23-12 and sits one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for third in the Metro.

Here are all the takeaways from:

Capitals Lose Ovechkin To Upper-Body Injury

Despite the Capitals’ victory, they suffered a major loss as Ovechkin left Sunday’s tilt early in the third with an upper-body injury. He would not return to the game.

Ovechkin went on a breakaway and tried to go to the backhand when he tripped over Erik Kallgren’s stick. The 36-year-old went awkwardly into the boards and stayed down in visible discomfort.

A trainer came out to tend to Ovechkin, but the captain got up and skated off under his own power. He went immediately down the tunnel.

Laviolette didn’t have an update on Ovechkin or how serious the injury is, but it comes at an unideal time. There are three games remaining in the regular season before the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs kick off the month of May. Ovechkin leads the Capitals with 50 goals and 90 points through 77 games this season.

Eller, Johansson Lead Way In Third, But Leafs Rally To Tie It In Rough Third Period

With the game knotted at 1 and Ovechkin out with an injury, Washington upped the pressure and rallied to overcome Toronto. Eller got the scoring started in the third, getting to the front of the net and tipping a Martin Fehervary shot-pass past Kallgren to make it 2-1. The Dane now has points in four of his last six games.

Just 1:08 minutes later, Marcus Johansson made a great move and stuffed the puck in on the backhand from in tight to extend the Capitals’ lead to 3-1.

Johansson now has points in four of his last five games and continues to play a key role at both ends of the ice for the Capitals.

Despite leading by two, the Capitals got a bit sloppy on the backcheck, and Ilya Mikheyev and Jason Spezza responded to tie the game for Toronto. Mikheyev’s goal came earlier in the frame, and with just 57.3 seconds left in regulation and the net empty, Spezza got alone in front and past the defense and snuck the puck past Vitek Vanecek.

It wasn’t an ideal frame for Washington, and it ultimately sent the game to overtime.

Capitals Fall In Shootout

Both the Capitals and Maple Leafs went back-and-forth in OT, exchanging grade-A chances and getting some big defensive plays and saves. Washington did get a late power-play opportunity, but couldn’t covert. The Capitals went 0-for-3 on the man advantage on Sunday.

Washington and Toronto would go to the shootout, where the Leafs won 2-1 on goals from Spezza and Alex Kerfoot.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • T.J. Oshie picked up his 11th goal of the season with a rocket of a shot in the opening frame.
  • Anthony Mantha dished an assist for his fifth point in five games. In a full 82-game season, he would have been on pace for 53 points.
  • Tom Wilson had a solid game, dishing three shots and leading Washington with six hits.
  • Johan Larsson continues to look good while filling in for Carl Hagelin. He’s forming great chemistry with Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway, and the trio played a great game against Toronto at both ends.
  • There were two successful coach’s challenges in Sunday’s game for both clubs — Washington won for an offside Spezza goal, and the Leafs won for a glove pass that waved off an Oshie goal. Both goals would have marked Spezza and Oshie’s second of the game.
  • Vanecek came up with quite a few big stops and finished the night with 27 saves on 30 shots (.900 save percentage).
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