After keeping his team in it for most of the game with a tough Capitals team, some wondered if we were seeing the usual Capitals collapse to a young Maple Leafs team through most of Game 1.
Showing no fear of the playoff stage or their opponent, the Maple Leafs took the play right to the Capitals in the first few shifts.
Coming less than three minutes after Gardiner's goal, it was certainly a timely strike for the Capitals.
Marner had everything he wanted in Thursday's Game 1 but a win. I'm glad that he said I worked hard, that's a compliment; I'll take that. "That stuff is going to happen if we play in our end a bit".
"It's very tongue-in-cheek" calling it Playoff Stress yoga. He advised that experience in the playoffs helped a player manage those "highs and lows". "They're (home team) supposed to win their first two games anyway'". McDavid, after missing the majority of his rookie season due to a collarbone injury, continues to impress as one of the NHL's most talented playmakers.
Andersen's 41 saves were marred by losing sight of the second of two Justin Williams' goals, getting out of his crouch after he thought a puck was loose. The Cobourg, Ont., native has appeared in 127 while winning three Cups and a Conn Smythe trophy as playoffs MVP. Starting at the top, the Capitals have one of the most risky offensive attacks in the National Hockey League, spearheaded by Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, and buttressed by Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson.
McDavid in 2015 and Matthews past year were selected with the No. 1 pick in consecutive drafts, as were Ovechkin (2004) and Crosby (2005).
It gets thin beyond that. The 23-year-old agreed with Babcock and tried to brush that off. The overall game was much closer than anyone predicted.
Uncharacteristic turnovers and blunders by the Capitals compounded the situation as fans yelled for them to "wake up".
Or will the simple depth of Washington's talent be the difference?
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"I think what they found out [Thursday] is they can skate with [the Capitals] and can be physical", Babcock said. The last five Stanley cup champions have all had a poster child for their success.
Babcock said there would be "pain" when he was hired as coach two seasons back.
There were the times Nicklas Backstrom - "one of the best passers in the league" - came by for dinner. You have to give them credit. Unlike Washington, a defeat for Toronto won't be all that disappointing, judged in the bigger picture of their long-term plan for Cup contention.
Washington (55-19-8) won the Presidents' Trophy and Metropolitan Division for the second straight season, finishing with 118 points.
"It's always fun going back to Toronto", Wilson said. All week long he's been preparing his roster for exactly what playoff hockey has in store.
Frederik Andersen struggled as a rookie in his playoff debut.
Seven years ago but still. "There's no letdown games. It's going to be a grown ups game, a grown man's game".
It was the first playoff overtime loss for the Maple Leafs since dropping a 5-4 decision in Game 7 against the Boston Bruins in May 2013.
"It's simple things, but they all add up", Shattenkirk said.
"The more times you go through it I think the more perspective you have on it", he said. Also, if you're interesting in watching one of the greatest goal-scorers of all-time and the greatest goal-scorer of this generation make another run at the Cup, this time with a team that could win it, this might be the series you're looking for.