Maple Leafs youngsters showing they can hang with Capitals stars

Either way, with the series tied and heading to Toronto, the outcome does not seem as preordained as it did when the playoffs began. "So that hasn't changed".

Two turning points in the game, if you will: Nazem Kadri twice throwing himself into Capitals defenceman Brooks Orpik in the first period with the Leafs down 2-0, giving Toronto momentum that helped result in Auston Matthews' first National Hockey League playoff goal; and the Leafs' ability in the second period to kill off a two-minute, two-man Caps advantage.

Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri each had a goal and an assist, and William Nylander also scored for the Maple Leafs. Matthews broke his brief playoff dry spell with a goal, an assist and six shots (more than the first two games combined) while Nylander scored and managed nine shot attempts.

This was a game the Washington Capitals should have had locked down by the end of the second period. Even though you don't consider them veterans, they're veteran-like people with veteran-like habits because they do it right all the time. "They are well-coached and we just came out and did what we had to do".

The Predators got in on a night full of comebacks as well, rallying from a two-goal deficit to take a 3-2 overtime win over the Blackhawks. Over their history, Washington has gained a reputation as a team that always chokes in the playoffs.

Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly, who played more than 40 minutes in Game 2 because of the length of the game and the season-ending leg injury to Roman Polak, said "you can't ask for much more" than getting a split in Washington and going home. It speaks to how rare playoff games in Toronto have been recently that it was only 10 Maple Leafs playoff games ago that Tucker leveled Sami Kapanen in the final game of a 2004 second-round series loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Meanwhile Mike Babcock has introduced the concept of "pucker factor" into this series and left the pressures of it firmly on the Capitals' shoulders. I didn't think we were bad but our reads defensively all night weren't very good and so we gave up bell-ringers at the start and gave Freddy no chance. You could tell it wasn't just your average game. You go down two and then you've got to win four out of five. So everything is magnified, that's all.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are hosting the Washington Capitals in NHL Playoff action tonight. He said no and recalled a conversation with Babcock as Toronto was pushing for a post-season berth. What is clear, however, is the fact that the Maple Leafs are a good, young team that has a very bright future. "I remember what it was like the last time we were in the playoffs". "I don't think they're dumb by any means".

I thought we had a real good kill and it was pretty evident - it's not hard for the guys to figure out we're not playing right.

"So let's just keep on going".

Before he finished his shift, Kadri went back for seconds with a high hit on Orpik that sent both men flying at the benches. And the Chicago Blackhawks now trail Nashville 3-0, with the Preds' first try at a series-clincher set for Thursday night. The 19-year-old sped through the neutral zone, fired a shot that ricocheted off some players and then batted a rebound behind Holtby.

"Not at all", said the Leafs winger, who bumped with his KHL buddy in the course of eight combined hits for the pair in Game 3. With that in mind, the ability to create noise in the first two games of the series and cause some uncertainty in the minds of the Capitals was already a win in itself for the Leafs. What if Washington loses Game 3?

Nylander evened it up at three at the tail-end of that second period.

At that point the Capitals were holding onto a 3-1 lead, but it would not last. "It's on", said Trotz. They had it printed on the back of their team shirts before the season. "They wouldn't be here if they weren't".