Williams tied it with four minutes left in the second period.
Toronto native Tom Wilson scored his first National Hockey League playoff goal 5:15 into overtime as the Washington Capitals survived a scare to beat the Maple Leafs 3-2 on Thursday night in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
Melker Karlsson scored at 3:22 of overtime and San Jose came back to beat Edmonton 3-2 in Game 1 of their first-round Western Conference series.
For the first time ever, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Washington Capitals are meeting up in post-season play.
The top-seeded Capitals came back from a two-goal deficit to take the early lead in the series and at least momentarily stop the panic about a slip-up.
The Toronto Maple Leafs put a scare in the Washington Capitals, but it was the favourites that prevailed in Game 1.
"He's a good player, you just need to stay above him and try to stay close to him", said Finnish winger Leo Komarov. "I think just the problem we had, and I was a victim of it, too, was just not moving your feet, not skating through it".
Braden Holtby turned back 35 shots for the Capitals, who host Game 2 on Saturday. Matthews is the California-native Leaf's rookie phenom who scored 40 goals this season, making him only the second 40-goal scorer for the Leafs in the last 20 years, and one of a handful since the last time the Leafs won a Stanley cup, in 1967.
"Everything's about momentum", Williams said.
Wilson stopped a clearing attempt in the Toronto zone, moved into the right circle and fired high past Frederik Andersen for his first career playoff goal.
"I think it's a mental state of mind and we remind the players of that, but I think you've got to go through it", coach Guy Boucher said.
"In between periods it was basically Justin just kind of calmed everyone down, said, 'Relax, we're not going to win every period, '" Holtby said. But defenseman Connor Carrick flipped around from game to game to get a feel for what he and his fellow playoff newcomers are in for. They were down 2-0 less than 10 minutes into the game and frustrated fans were yelling "Wake up!" in frustration. It's a daunting task for any team to go up against a juggernaut, but anything can happen over the course of a seven-game series. In the first round, the division victor with the best record in each conference plays the wild-card team with the lesser record, whereas the wild-card team with the better record will play the other division victor.
Wilson didn't want to make too big of a deal of what the goal could mean for himself or for his team.
It's a very big hypothetical to ponder, but the "pucker factor" Babcock discussed is tough to argue against, especially since he experienced it during his first year with the Detroit Red Wings in 2005.
"But, honestly, it's a pretty true quote", Wilson said, laughing.
If others worry about the pressure Toronto's young players face, Babcock does not.
But at the end of the day, his Toronto Maple Leafs remain the longest of long shots to win the Stanley Cup this season, so whatever experience they gain in this year's playoffs is the most important aspect for the young team. This year, they enter the playoffs on an 11-2-1 run and having fashioned a 32-7-2 record at home. I think what they found out is you can skate with them, you can be physical, their D give the puck to you when you're physical just like if they're physical with us.
While they held Alex Ovechkin and the Washington top line off the board, despite playing without top pairing defenceman Nikita Zaitsev, the Leafs struggled with Williams, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson as well as the Capitals bottom two lines. It was Wilson's first playoff goal. The Maple Leafs are 5-18 in the last 23 meetings in Washington, 1-8 in the last 9 meetings and the home team is 21-8 in the last 29 meetings.