Published: Thu, January 05, 2017
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

A Legendary day at the Centennial Classic

A Legendary day at the Centennial Classic

"He works hard every day, he has a skill set that allows him to do things that other people can't do, but on top of that he has a good brain".

With the Leafs in the beginning stages of an era that is expected to bring more success than the organization has experienced in decades, setbacks will come as the team grows and finds itself.

Alex Ovechkin scored 22 seconds into overtime as the Washington Capitals rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period and defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-5 on Tuesday night.

In this January 1, 2017 file photo, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) and his teammates c ...

Matthews has been a huge story since he was drafted by the Leafs back in June. "We have to clean it up". "When you get to rub elbows with those guys and you see the pride they have in the uniform, being a Leaf and how important it was to them, I think it's a great message for our young guys".

Toronto's Nikita Zaitsev was called for hooking 33 seconds into the game and Justin Williams deflected a Orlov shot past Andersen at 1:14 for a 1-0 lead in a high-scoring first period.

After Komarov's tally, however, the Leafs let in two straight Capitals goals in a wild third period.

"Some nights it did not go as good for us, and that is the reality of the National Hockey League when you are trying to find your way".

In the celebration that followed his his game victor - his 20th goal of the season and second of the game - Matthews grabbed fourth-line winger Matt Martin and told him what his third-period scrap with Detroit's Steve Ott meant to him.

For Matthews, who had four goals in his debut against Ottawa Oct. 12, his growth has come away from the puck.

The Metropolitan Division-leading Blue Jackets seek to win their 17th in a row in traveling to play Washington on Thursday night. Now chasing their divisional rivals including the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins, the Leafs needed to keep winning in order maintain their pace and close the gap. Neither Washington's Barry Trotz nor Toronto's Mike Babcock was pleased with his team's fundamentals, even if the entertainment factor was off the charts.

"We were all in together, right from the goaltending to the defence to the forwards, we were all in together: Not very good". "It's just another hockey experience we get to have with each other". We feel like we're making strides, " Brown said. "You've got to love digging in and knowing you're going to get it done, so that was a good opportunity for our team because we haven't had those kind of opportunities, so I thought that was good".

Washington tied it with four minutes remaining in the period. Auston Matthews leads Toronto with 20 goals, James van Riemsdyk has 13 assists and Nazem Kadri has 116 shots on goal.

Overall, the Leafs rookies combined for another eight points, giving them 145 this season.

"It's the process of a young team but at the same time it's not the road we want to go down", Matthews said of the third-period trouble. "He's a real leader ... definitely that was the turning point for us".

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