Caps heed coach's advice

ROB LONGLEY, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

Ever wonder what a good coaching staff looks for in the pre-game warmup?

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau gave us an indication during one of those in-game interviews with TSN Wednesday night, saying his shooters needed to go high on Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson and stop shooting “in the bread basket.”

Sure enough, when Mike Green crept in from the point on a second-period power play, he waited an instant for the Monster to go down (which he has a tendency to do to early) then pumped it up top for the Caps first goal.

To a lesser extent, Alex Semin’s shootout winner took advantage of the same observation.

GAME ON

That’s not to say Gustavsson didn’t have a huge night, including a massive save later in the second when he got the tip of his stick on a Niklas Backstrom shot at a wide-open net. The man was robbed ... Yes, that was Tomas Kaberle wearing the “A” in Dion Phaneuf’s absence. No surprise there: Leafs coach Ron Wilson and GM Brian Burke have never questioned his leadership ... It was clear that Wilson was trying to match Luke Schenn with Alex Ovechkin and the off-season changes in the just turned 21-year-old helped make it successful. Schenn, who is quicker on his feet, now has the speed to reduce some of the space which makes Ovechkin so dangerous. How did it work? Ovechkin didn’t get his first shot on net until 20 seconds into the third and only scored in the shootout ... Bad luck for Schenn on the penalty that opened the door for Green’s goal. Slo-mo replays showed Ovie stepped on Schenn’s stick.

MORE SCORE

Before Tyler Bozak’s go-ahead goal in the third, the Leafs had scored just twice in their previous 26 power plays and were quickly headed towards reclaiming their spot as the NHL’s worst in that department ... TSN’s Pierre Maguire made the point that if the Leafs want Bozak to be an offensive guy, “they need to get him with better wingers.” Remember though, that he’s had enough time playing with Phil Kessel and Kris Versteeg, so can you not argue that it’s on Bozak to prove he’s worthy of being matched with the best wingers? ... Bozak started on a line with John Mitchell an Freddie Sjostrom, which we’re guessing was a clear follow-up message to Burke calling him out the night before. Bozak was back with Kessel and Versteeg later in the second period and seemed to have more jump, including his work on the goal that secured the Leafs a point in the 5-4 shootoout loss ... It could have been an even better night had he buried a great feed from Kessel on a 2-on-1 which would have given the Leafs a 5-3 lead ... Wilson did plenty of line-juggling throughout the game and got the desired response. He’s one of the best in the league at reading his players in-game.

OVERTIME

The Leafs had a right to be steamed at the weak cross-check penalty handed to Brett Lebda that led to the Caps tying goal. Shouldn’t have been called at any time but especially deep in the third in a tied game ... Big night for Leafs D-man Mike Komisarek who logged a season-high 26 minutes and two second and had a pair of assists ... Little things that drive Wilson crazy:. On one Leafs power-play, two Kaberle and Mikhail Grabovski banged into each other in the corner. As usual, there wasn’t a blue and white player in front of the net ... Little things that drive Boudreau crazy: Green scores a PP goal, but still finds himself minus-three on the night ... Green was all over Versteeg, who gamely fought him off, for his huge breakaway goal to tie the game at 5:02 of the third ... After a rough night of giveaways, Kaberle got a nice assist when his shot from the circle was tipped in by Mike Brown, who had parked himself at the top of the Caps crease ... Wilson seriously shortened his bench in the third with barely a Luca Caputi sighting ... Given all the snipers on the ice, how odd that Brown led all shooters with six shots on net.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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