Grabovski Homecoming Spoiled
Mikhail Grabovski didn't have the return he had imagined. Wasn't really effective on the ice, didn't play much, and wasn't selected to shoot in the shoutout. Sounds eerily familiar to his time with Randy Carlyle, doesn't it? The Capitals lost in a shootout 2-1. Worst of all, he suffered a gruesome injury in the second period, having his face make contact with David Clarkson's skate. Thankfully, his eyes came away clean, but his upper face required twenty stitches to contain the bleeding from two separate cuts.
Clarkson on the other hand, one of Carlyle's favourite off-season acquisitions, had himself an eventful game. He was given 18:38 minutes of ice time, and pushed the Caps to their limit. Whether it was drawing the vehement rage of the opposition, or crashing the boards, he helped paint the victory with the only Leafs goal. It was his second of the season, and quickly now his second in the last three games.
The Maple Leafs did a great job covering superstar Alex Ovechkin tonight. Unfortunately, "great job" means he was limited to only one goal. Through the first two periods, he only managed a single shot on goal, despite the two power play opportunities Washington had. Most of that is credited to Dion Phaneuf, who has done a good job all year shutting down opposition stars. The Leafs 5-on-4 penalty kill looked more like a 4-on-3, since one forward was tasked with gluing himself to Ovechkin during the advantage. The tactic provided an opportunity for John Carlson, who fired six slap shots during a single power play but was stoned by James Reimer. Ovechkin's only goal came late in the third off what was a bit of a lucky bounce to tie the game.
Reimer once again provided a "Sochi-like" performance, stopping 49 shots and holding the fort in the shootout period. Without a doubt, he's an elite NHL goalie, and now holds the best save percentage in the league with .947. He was all three stars for the Leafs tonight, and probably deserves a good stretch of starts.
Of concern for the Maple Leafs has been the playing status of Phil Kessel. The last three games he say less than 16 minutes of ice. Tonight was an over time game, so he was able to get in just over 18 minutes. With sightings of a taped wrist, deflecting answers from Carlyle and Kessel from the media, it's probable that the star winger is fighting an injury of some sorts. His play looked a little faint tonight, and the same goes for his demeanour.
On Monday night the Maple Leafs will clash with the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team they should share no business losing to.