Toronto Maple Leafs: Careless mistakes continue to be costly

Tom Wilson #43 of the Washington Capitals skates against Kasperi Kapanen #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Tom Wilson #43 of the Washington Capitals skates against Kasperi Kapanen #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs dropped their third straight game, as they continue to make poor decisions that have been costing them close games.

Losing three-straight games isn’t an ideal situation for the Toronto Maple Leafs, with a lot of chatter ahead of the trade deadline about the team’s need to add physicality and toughness.

Against the Washington Capitals, that wasn’t the issue as the team made some careless mistakes you cannot make against a team that can take advantage of them. On a night where the Leafs outshot the Capitals 42-28 but lost 3-2, the team could’ve earned a better result but let the game get away from them on two plays.

The first goal by Alex Ovechkin was a trademark shot and there aren’t many teams who can stop it, considering the Russian has 650 over his career. That goal wasn’t the problem for the Leafs; it was the final two that were problematic.

On Brett Connolly‘s goal, Jake Gardiner was behind the net and about to make the play when he turned into a deer in the headlights with Tom Wilson charging at him. The winger ran over Gardiner causing a turnover and no one accounted for Connolly, who went untouched to the front of the net and put it past Frederik Andersen.

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This forced Mike Babcock to move Andreas Johnsson to play with Auston Matthews and they responded with a goal to put the Leafs within one. Then with a chance to tie it on the power play, four Leafs players were caught low in the offensive zone, allowing Lars Eller to break out of the zone and give to Wilson on the two-on-one for what would be the game-winning goal.

Regardless, there was still 13 minutes left in the game and the Leafs looked like they had the life sucked out of them. For the third straight game they failed to score through the first two periods, even though they pounded on the shots against a stellar Braden Holtby.

When your offence isn’t clicking your defence better be rock solid and for two of the three goals, the Capitals converted on mistakes the Leafs shouldn’t be making. So before people demand the team make a trade to bring in a player who plays with more of an edge, they should look at why the team lost the game on Thursday night.

Was Wilson’s physicality a problem throughout the games? At times it was, but not being able to clear the zone, making careless passes and not playing with the same pace they started the game with was a bigger problem.

Hopefully, Babcock can discover the solution or it will be up to general manager Kyle Dubas to find it and that will be costly. However, considering the opportunity the Leafs have, they can’t continue to shoot themselves in the foot.

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What were your thoughts on the loss to the Capitals? Will the lack of physical play continue to be the team’s problem going forward, or is it something else? Let us know in the comments below.