First night of playoffs teaches lesson to young Maple Leafs

St. Louis Blues Vladimir Tarasenko of Russia celebrates

St. Louis Blues Vladimir Tarasenko of Russia celebrates

In scoring first for the second straight game, the Leafs were buoyed by power-play time and topped by some nice Gardiner work around the Caps' net, James van Riemsdyk put his first of the playoffs past Holtby, with Gardiner earning his seventh point in eight career playoff games.

With the Capitals trying to get into beast mode early after starting slow and almost losing the series opener in OT to underdog Toronto, they came into Game 2 intending to bring out the heavy equipment at home, being physical and grinding the smaller Leafs into the ice.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without veteran defenseman Roman Polak for the rest of the playoffs.

Look ahead: The series now heads north of the border to Toronto for Game 3 on Monday and Game 4 on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old scored the overtime victor to deliver gold for Finland at the 2016 World Junior championships, and the game-tying goal in the third period against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the game where Toronto clinched a playoff berth. The son of longtime National Hockey League 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.

"That's part of growing up in this league, part of learning how hard it is to get through some series", said Brian Boyle. "But I think as whole we played well, good team hockey up and down the ice and we battled through it". "We deserved to win and I'm just really happy about the outcome".

"We have to focus on the next game", Holtby said, noting the Caps have rarely played with the lead in this series after playing with it the most this season. That sets up an all-important Game 3 on Monday as, per Elias Sports Bureau, 67.6-percent of teams that win Game 3 after splitting Games 1 and 2 go on to win the series.

The power play was the fourth of the game for Toronto, and getting production was crucial against a Washington squad that spent large portions of time in the Leafs' end.

"He was outstanding in Game 1 and obviously he was no slouch tonight", Rielly said of Andersen.

"Freddie makes it easy". Washington fell behind in each of the first two games and will try to reverse that trend moving forward.

Rielly and Gardiner both logged more than 40 minutes in the win after Roman Polak went down with a season-ending injury (right leg) late in the second frame.

Orpik came up to deliver a hit on Polak near the blue line of the Washington zone, with the two banging legs.

Rookie phenom Nikita Zaitsev was already watching Saturday's game from the press box (upper-body injury) and the loss of Polak made the Maple Leafs' already weak right side even weaker.

"As far as the minutes go, we'll be fine", Rielly said.

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.

In a wacky game with back-and-forth action, 12 minor penalties and Polak's injury, it was only fitting the best scoring chance in the first overtime didn't even feature a shot.

Watch the game? Tell us what you thought! I think we've proven to everybody we could play with these guys. Martin Marincin had only played one game in over a month and clocked 30:41. 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. In fact, they have yet to score in the postseason.

The Leafs will now turn to either 25-year-old Russian defenseman Alexey Marchenko, Zaitsev (if he's healthy), or a replacement from the Marlies.

Ryan Johansen had a goal and two assists as Nashville added a dominant performance to its taut 1-0 victory in Game 1 on Thursday.

Much like their series with the Flyers past year, incredible goaltending is dismantling the Capitals, and the team continually fails to find an answer for it. Washington allowed Philadelphia to stick around far longer than they should have, and while many predicted a sweep in this David vs Goliath series, the Capitals will be forced to play at least five games.

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