If their first-round performance was any indication, the Toronto Maple Leafs have officially arrived.
As the Leafs did the previous five games, they pushed the Washington Capitals to the limit in Game 6. A furious forty minutes of hockey produced exactly zero goals, in large part because of the outstanding play from Toronto’s Frederik Andersen in net.
Finally, at the 7:45 mark of the third period, rookie phenom Auston Matthews broke the stalemate, taking control of the puck off a fortuitous bounce and releasing a parabolic shot that eluded Washington’s Braden Holtby to give Toronto a 1-0 lead.
The euphoria did not last long, however, as Marcus Johansson tied the contest just over five minutes later with a seemingly-innocent bank shot that squeaked past Andersen.
Mad scrambles at both ends fell short, sending the two teams to overtime for the second consecutive game and a fifth time in the six tries in a series, helping set an NHL record as the 18th first-round game to go to OT.
In the extra session, it was “Mr. Game 7,” Justin Williams of the Capitals, with the slap shot that left a wide-open rebound for Johansson, who then potted his second of the night for the OT- and series-winner.
Washington will face Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the playoffs.
Senators 3, Bruins 2 (OT) | OTT wins 4–2
Ottawa Senators’ winger Clarke MacArthur hasn’t played in too many hockey games over the past few years, but he made this one count.
Boston drew first blood thanks to Drew Stafford’s power play goal, an absolute howitzer that beat goalie Craig Anderson to give the B’s a 1-0 lead. With the secondary assist on the goal, rookie Charlie McAvoy picked up his third helper of the playoffs.
Early in the middle frame, Ottawa tied it up with a power play marker of its own. Bobby Ryan tipped Derick Brassard’s point shot, racking up his fourth goal of the postseason. Five minutes later, Ryan Dzingel picked up a loose puck off a Bruins turnover and dropped it off for Kyle Turris, who ripped a shot past TuukaRask to put the Sens ahead 2-1.
The Bruins needed to respond, and less than two minutes into the third period, they did. Patrice Bergeron jumped on the rebound from Brad Marchand’s wrist shot and buried it to tie the game at two-apiece. The remainder of regulation time didn’t solve anything, so the teams headed for OT.
Enter MacArthur. With a power play in overtime, the Senators had a great opportunity to put the game to bed. Ryan camped out behind the net and spotted MacArthur near the front of the net, in perfect position to one-time the puck past Rask for the game and series winning goal.
Ottawa will play the New York Rangers in the next round, and will have home ice advantage.
1. Clarke MacArthur (OTT) – What a story: MacArthur doesn’t play in the NHL for nearly two years because of concussion symptoms, and is unlikely to do so again. Then, on his improbable comeback tour, he becomes a playoff hero in Ottawa, notching the overtime-winner against Boston and winning the series for the Senators.