5 Keys: Capitals at Maple Leafs, Game 3
Washington defenseman Karl Alzner game-time decision; Nikita Zaitsev returns to Toronto lineup
by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent
2:22 PM Share
CAPITALS at MAPLE LEAFS
7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports 2, CSN-DC
Best-of-7 series is tied 1-1
After splitting the first two games at Verizon Center, the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs resume their Eastern Conference First Round series at Air Canada Centre on Monday.
The Maple Leafs tied the series when Kasperi Kapanen scored 11:53 into the second overtime for a 4-3 win Saturday. Kapanen became first Maple Leafs player to score an overtime goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since Travis Green's double-OT goal in Game 6 of the 2003 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Game 3 will be the first playoff game in Toronto since May 12, 2013, when the Maple Leafs defeated the Boston Bruins 2-1 in Game 6 of their first-round series.
Here are 5 keys for Game 3:
1. Alzner's streak in question, Zaitsev returns
Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner missed the morning skate for maintenance and will be a game-time decision. He has played 540 consecutive regular-season games since Oct. 8, 2010, the fifth-longest active streak in the NHL, and 59 straight playoff games.
"Karl's an important player," defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "He defends really well, especially down low around the net. He's important on our penalty kill. He's a good player for us."
Alzner blasts one by Miller
00:00:50 • January 14th, 2016
Maple Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is back after missing the first two games of the series because of an upper-body injury. He played all 82 regular-season games.
"It's nice to get Zaitsev back, it's an opportunity for him," coach Mike Babcock said. "He's been a real good player for us all year. He's ultra-competitive, he moves the puck. He plays on the power play, the penalty kill. He's an important guy for us."
2. Improved even-strength production
The Capitals have six goals in the first two games but three have come on the power play. Forward Alex Ovechkin said more emphasis is needed on obstructing Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen's view.
"We have to make more traffic in front of the goalie because we didn't go a lot in the middle of the ice in front of the net," Ovechkin said. "We know we can be better in the offensive zone."
3. Auston Matthews must get going
Matthews' 40 regular-season goals were a Maple Leafs rookie record and tied for second in the League behind Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby's 44. However, Matthews does not have a point in the series.
Matthews' power-play goal
01:02 • April 1st, 2017
4. Fourth-line production
In Game 1, Capitals fourth-line right wing Tom Wilson scored in overtime to give them a 3-2 win. The Maple Leafs' fourth line responded in Game 2 when Kapanen scored twice, including in overtime, and Brian Boyle and Matt Martin each had two assists.
Martin had nine points (five goals, four assists) in 82 regular-season games while Boyle had three assists in 21 games after being acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 27.
"We want to obviously contribute more than we did in the regular season and be a big factor in the playoffs," Martin said. "Seeing [Kapanen] get two goals was pretty special and hopefully we'll continue to play some strong hockey. Most of all it's playing with energy, being physical and having heavy shifts. That's how we got both of our goals and we need to continue to play that way."
Kapanen on double OT winner
00:55 • April 15th, 2017
5. Stay out of the penalty box
The Capitals power play has been lethal through the first two games, scoring three times on eight opportunities (37.5 percent) to lead the League. Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman, a key penalty killer, said the best way to contain the Capitals' power play is to not give them opportunities.
"They're a great team, they have great players, great offensive weapons," he said. "If you give them chances they're going to be able to put it in the net. Calls are going to be made. It's tough but we have to be a little bit more disciplined for sure."
Capitals projected lineup
Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Justin Williams
Brett Connolly -- Lars Eller -- Andre Burakovsky
Daniel Winnik -- Jay Beagle -- Tom Wilson
Nate Schmidt -- John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik -- Kevin Shattenkirk
Scratched: Paul Carey, Taylor Chorney
Injured: Karl Alzner (undisclosed)
Maple Leafs projected lineup
James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Mitchell Marner
Leo Komarov -- Nazem Kadri -- Connor Brown
Zach Hyman -- Auston Matthews -- William Nylander
Matt Martin -- Brian Boyle -- Kasperi Kapanen
Matt Hunwick -- Morgan Rielly
Jake Gardiner -- Nikita Zaitsev
Martin Marincin -- Connor Carrick
Scratched: Alexey Marchenko, Ben Smith, Josh Leivo
Injured: Roman Polak (lower body), Eric Fehr (hand/arm), Nikita Soshnikov (undisclosed)
If Alzner cannot play, Schmidt will appear in his first game since April 9. "He's a really good player," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "We're real fortunate to have a guy that's played in our top six all year who got bumped down to seven."… Fehr participated in the morning skate but will not play.