- Frederik Andersen played the role of brick wall on Monday, helping the Maple Leafs even their series with the Bruins, while Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals overwhelmed the Blue Jackets for a fourth straight win.
While the rest of the teams still in the playoffs get a couple of extra days to rest up, Boston and Toronto will have the spotlight to themselves for Game 7.
The Toronto Maple Leafs scored three unanswered goals in a 3-1 Game 6 win over the Boston Bruins to force a Game 7 back in Boston.
The Bruins started the second period off strongly, opening scoring just over a minute into the game. Off the faceoff, Jake DeBrusk’s quick shot from the circle deflected off a player in front of the net and Frederik Andersen barely saw it go by him. Luckily for the Maple Leafs, Andersen didn’t feel much like letting anything else past him on Monday, stopping the rest of the 32 shots he saw on the night.
Toronto didn’t take long to react to such a quick start, just 35 seconds to be exact. William Nylander collected a rebound in the crease and had a wide-open net behind goalie Tuukka Rask to shoot at. The Maple Leafs continued to ride the momentum and almost had a 2-1 lead when Zach Hyman found the puck in the paint after Auston Matthews attempted a wrap-around shot. The goal was reviewed for goaltender interference, as Hyman’s skate seemed to catch Rask’s blocker and stick before the puck trickled behind him and was turned over. (What is goalie interference? This, I think.)
With the goal being turned over seemingly deflating Toronto, it appeared Boston might ride much of the momentum for the rest of the second period, until Mitchell Marner found a loose puck in the slot and spun to his backhand to flick it past Rask.
The third was filled with intensity and desperation from both sides as the Bruins worked to even the score and the Leafs tried to protect their lead. Spending much of the period skating defensively and aggressively, Toronto finally sealed it up with an empty netter from Tomas Plekanec. The puck will drop at 7:30 on Wednesday for Game 7, giving us our first night off since these playoffs began. Use it wisely, folks.
CAPITALS 6, BLUE JACKETS 3
Washington casually whipped out four straight wins to march on to the second round, which was capped off with a 6-3 win in Columbus in Game 6. It took until late in the third period for this game to be clarified as a Caps win, though, as neither team really seemed to take the reins.
It all began when Dmitry Orlov blasted a slap shot in the high slot to give the Caps a 1-0 lead in the first period. Things fell silent for a bit until Washington found itself with a 5-on-3 opportunity in the second. But Columbus killed off both penalties and the momentum built up enough when even strength was restored. Nick Foligno took a stretch pass while entering the offensive zone and found the back of the net with a wrister to equalize the score.
But as it did all series long, the pendulum swung around in circles and Alex Ovechkin single-handedly gave the Caps a two-goal lead to close out the second period. Ovi picked up a rebound from a heavy Brooks Orpik point shot and backhanded it in without ever really looking at the net. His second came on the power play from—where else—his beloved left faceoff circle with a one-timer.
Pierre-Luc Dubois scored 2:25 into the third, much to Washington’s surmise as they felt Christian Djoos was tripped behind the net just before Dubois scored. But alas, it didn’t matter as Devante Smith-Pelly responded quickly with a snipe to pad the Caps’ lead and Chandler Stephenson made it bit comfier with a shorthanded goal to make it 5-2. Columbus’s Foligno didn’t give up though, scoring his second of the night, but Lars Eller flung it from the defensive zone to seal it with the empty netter with 13.9 seconds left.
John Tortorella won’t fulfill his promise to bring the series back to Washington and the Blue Jackets will have to wait at least another year to win their first playoff series in franchise history.
With four of the six games going to overtime, Washington should be grateful that Toronto forced a Game 7 to give the Caps a couple extra days before what will likely be another exhausting series against the Penguins….for the third straight year.
Following the win Ovechkin was asked about the series awaiting him: “I can’t wait.”
Neither can we.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
Much of the game in Columbus went back and forth, with no momentum from a single team really established...until Chandler Stephenson gave Washington its largest lead of the game at 5-2. While shorthanded, Stephenson skated up to Sergei Bobrovsky pulling out all kinds of control, finally baiting him with a dangle he slipped between the netminder’s legs.
Bobrovsky looked a tad stunned there at the end. Same, Bob. Same.
1. Frederik Andersen, TOR — Andersen blocked 17 shots in the first period, allowed one goal early in the second and then went back to being a brick wall for the rest of the game. Even when Boston was finding pockets of pressure, Andersen kept the Leafs in it stopping 32 of 33 shots.
2. Alex Ovechkin, WSH — Ovi notched two goals, which happened to be his 50th and 51st playoff goals in his career, and put on a little show in the second period to quiet anyone claiming he’s a problem for the Caps in the postseason.
3. Nick Foligno, CBJ — Knowing that basically anything was possible in the Caps-Blue Jackets series, Foligno wasn’t ready to give the Caps an easy farewell. Having not scored since mid-March, Foligno scored twice to keep the Blue Jackets’ hopes alive as long as possible.