The visiting Washington Capitals and the Toronto Maple Leafs will both be out to improve on their opening-night performances and get their first win of the season Thursday night.
The Maple Leafs will be coming home after losing their season-opener 4-3 to the host Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night, on a goal in the final minute of the third period.
The Capitals lost their opener 5-2 to the visiting Boston Bruins on Wednesday. The Capitals will likely face former goaltender Ilya Samsonov, expected to make his Maple Leafs debut.
Matt Murray made his Toronto debut in goal on Wednesday and made 19 saves.
The Maple Leafs led twice against the Canadiens before losing it at 19:41 of the third period on a goal by Josh Anderson. Montreal had taken a 3-2 lead on Sean Monahan’s goal at 17:30 of the third and William Nylander tied it for Toronto at 18:10.
“Tough one to swallow in the last few minutes” said Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, who had two assists. “We give one up, we tie it, we give one up again. Disappointing. We have to learn from it quick and get back in front of Leafs Nation tomorrow and feed off our fans and get home and bounce back.”
Luckily for Toronto, there’s plenty of time to get things corrected.
“It was early-season sloppiness, but I don’t expect that,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “For everything our team has been through together, that’s unacceptable. We have to be way more responsible … There was nothing wrong with our effort. It was just careless. I expect more. Our group should expect more. Not good enough, so you deserve to lose.”
The Maple Leafs had chances. Alexander Kerfoot was stopped on a penalty shot and Auston Matthews hit a goal post on a power play. Matthews, who scored 60 goals last season, did not score on Wednesday.
Keefe said that his team did not follow the game plan.
“When you’re not prepared to play the necessary way to win the game, you’ll lose, no matter who you’re playing,” Keefe said.
The Capitals fell behind early in what coach Peter Laviolette termed a “disjointed and disconnected” effort.
When the Capitals did apply pressure, they were frustrated by Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (33 saves).
“When you fall behind 3-0, you are going to have a hard time on a nightly basis winning hockey games,” Laviolette said. “There was a lot of things we could have done better. The first half of the game we were outdone five-on-five, we were outdone on special teams, and it ended up costing us.”
The Capitals cut the lead to 3-2 before David Krejci scored at 16:17 of the third period for Boston. Boston then added an empty-net goal.
Washington’s new goaltender Darcy Kuemper made 25 saves and did not have much help in front of him.
“I don’t think it was locker-room chemistry or rust,” Kuemper said. “We had a good preseason. Just the start didn’t go our way for whatever reason. We got to watch it, learn from it and then move forward.”
The Capitals went 0-for-4 on the power play.
“We have so many talented players on the power play that we need to get at least one goal,” said Anthony Mantha, who scored a goal for Washington. “It’s still early. We’ll figure it out. I’m not worried.”
–Field Level Media