One word to describe this series? Tight.
All five games have been decided by a single goal, with four of them requiring extra time.
Unfortunately, the Toronto Maple Leafs wound up on the wrong side of tight in this game.
A Justin Williams goal just a few minutes into overtime gave the Washington Capitals a 2-1 win, and a leg up in the series.
The Leafs now find themselves facing elimination, down 3-2 with the series shifting back to Toronto.
Here’s how Game 5 played out.
Frederick Andersen has been the single biggest difference-maker in this series, no questions asked.
Coaching has been great and the rookies have answered the bell, but Andersen outplaying Braden Holtby has been the biggest factor for the Leafs.
Again today, when they were chasing for most of the first period, it was Andersen holding the Leafs in the game.
He had 10 stops in the first period, including this jaw-dropper of a glove save.
After Andersen robbed the Caps of their first goal, Nazem Kadri robbed them of their best player.
As Ovechkin tried to exit the zone, Kadri went for a hip check that clipped his leg and sent him tumbling down awkwardly.
Kadri was given a tripping penalty on the play. Was it tripping?
Don Cherry said in the intermission that it was a clean hit. Then again, Don isn’t exactly a shining beacon for impartiality.
It’s hard to call this one. Ovi sidestepped at the last second which could have made the hit worse than it would have been otherwise. Kadri went low which is always risky, but was it lower than any other hip check? A quick Twitter search would tell you it’s debatable.
I prefer Ron MacLean’s answer. It happened quickly, and with a star player going down hurt, what can you expect the refs to do?
Anyways, Ovi went to the tunnel and Washington went to the power play. It wasn’t long before they scored to take a 1-0 lead.
Ovi came back to start the second, and he clearly had a bone to pick. He and the rest of the Caps came at the Leafs with high intensity and lots of body checks early in the middle frame.
Despite that, it was the Leafs who scored the next goal to even the score, courtesy of Auston Matthews.
The Caps’ frustrations seemed to get the best of them in the middle frame as they only got four shots on goal.
Compared to the other games in this series, Game 5 was a grind.
It was tight, physical, and low-scoring, yet still had as many exciting moments as the previous games. The stakes felt higher, too. There was a feeling that just one play, one bounce, one goal could make or break the series for the Leafs.
When the game went to overtime, that feeling only further intensified.
And then it happened.
Williams is simply clutch in the #StanleyCup Playoffs.
OT winner. Series lead. One more to go. pic.twitter.com/cLOqMM1SSu
— NHL (@NHL) April 22, 2017
Of course it’s Justin Williams. Who else?
Game 6 goes down back at the ACC on Sunday at 7 pm, and the Leafs need to win to stay alive.