NHL Game Summary - Washington at Toronto
(Tuesday, March 24th)
Final Score: Toronto 3, Washington 2 (SO)
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Jeff Hamilton scored the lone goal of the shootout on the Leafs' first shot, and substitute goaltender Curtis Joseph stopped Alex Ovechkin to end the game, as Toronto topped Washington, 3-2, at Air Canada Centre.
Hamilton beat Jose Theodore with a wrister to open the round, then the Caps netminder halted Jason Blake and John Mitchell in turn. Joseph stopped Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin, then turned away Ovechkin to wrap up the game by sliding in the crease before the star winger could elevate his shot.
Pavel Kubina lit the lamp and Phil Oreskovic tallied his first NHL goal for the Maple Leafs, who have won four of their last five but are still a long- shot for a playoff berth. Toronto leaped over idle Ottawa into 11th place in the Eastern Conference with 75 points.
Martin Gerber made 34 stops before being ejected late in regulation. Joseph was strong with nine saves -- including eight in overtime -- to pick up the win.
Ovechkin and Brooks Laich scored for the Capitals, who have dropped two straight, but with the point earned for the shootout loss, drew into a tie for the second-seed in the East with idle New Jersey and extended its lead in the Southeast Division over idle Carolina to 10 points.
Jose Theodore took the loss after a 27-save performance.
"They check good, play good defense. They don't give us any chances to shoot," Ovechkin said of the Leafs, who limited the Capitals to nine goals in four contests this season.
The Leafs went ahead 1-0 when Alexei Ponikarovsky picked up a loose puck behind the net and fed to Oreskovic at the right point for a shot that changed direction past Theodore 9:04 into the second period.
"I thought it went off (Mikhail) Grabovsky, but he went and scooped the puck up for me," Oreskovic noted of the sequence.
Ovechkin tied the game with a backhander off a Backstrom dish with 21 seconds left in the period for a power-play marker.
Semin had a chance to put Washington ahead with less than three minutes to play in regulation, but he missed a puck laying in the crease inches from the goal line.
That set the stage for Kubina, whose man-advantage point blast with 2:08 on the clock gave the Leafs a 2-1 edge.
Not to be outdone, the Caps tied the game from a goal-mouth scramble 1:11 later. Semin's backhand pass from behind the Toronto net found Gerber's pad, but the puck squirted loose long enough for Laich to shove it under the netminder and over the goal line.
Gerber was ejected after he angrily made contact with referee Mike Leggo and shot the puck at the officials following the tying score, and Joseph took over. He made consecutive stops late in overtime on Semin to preserve the tie.
"I got a little bit of an adrenaline rush. I had to get ready fast," said Joseph. "I love to contribute. There's no better feeling than coming off the ice knowing it's a job well done."
Toronto improved to 6-7 in the shootout, while Washington fell to 4-5...Oreskovic has just eight games of NHL experience, all this season...Joseph has registered a win in his last two appearances, including a win in his last start, March 17 against Tampa Bay...With Montreal's 6-3 victory over Atlanta, Toronto is also eight points behind the Habs for the final playoff spot in the conference...The teams split four meetings in 2008-09.
03/24 22:46:22 ET