NHL Game Summary - Washington at Toronto
(Tuesday, April 5th)
Final Score: Washington 3, Toronto 2 (SO)
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Mike Knuble netted the winner in the fourth round of the shootout to give Washington a 3-2 victory over Toronto and the Southeast Division title.
Alex Ovechkin and John Erskine tallied in regulation for the Capitals, who simply needed a win to clinch but got some help earlier Tuesday when Tampa Bay lost in regulation at Buffalo.
Michal Neuvirth made 19 stops as the Caps claimed their fourth straight first- place finish.
With the Flyers' regulation loss at Ottawa on Tuesday, Washington vaulted into first place in the Eastern Conference with 105 points. Philadelphia is two points back, while Pittsburgh, which also won, is three behind. All three teams have two games remaining.
"They looked a little tired -- mentally tired," Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It's hard hanging on and hanging on and hanging on. I thought as the game wore on we kept getting it deep and wearing them down a little bit."
Nikolai Kulemin and Joffrey Lupul scored for the Maple Leafs, while James Reimer stopped 39 shots.
After Lupul shot wide to begin the fourth round, Knuble ended the contest by ripping a wrister under the crossbar.
Though already eliminated from playoff contention, Toronto provided a good fight, twice taking a one-goal lead in the contest.
Kulemin got the Leafs on the board on a power play at 5:37 of the first period, when he snaked through the high slot and scored with a wrister, but Ovechkin evened the game with his 300th career goal.
The young star didn't need to settle a Brooks Laich pass, choosing to rip it home from the bottom of the left circle on a power play at 11:28.
Lupul's tally at 1:35 of the second period restored Toronto's one-goal edge, then Erskine scored just after the 12-minute mark on a wrister from the left point.
Reimer needed to make 14 saves in the third period just to get the game beyond regulation.
"What they'll have to show for it is the whole run and something to build on for next year...we pretty much have handled our own business over the last month or six weeks...in the last two weeks you've got to give credit to Buffalo and the Rangers for getting the job done," Toronto head coach Ron Wilson said.
Washington took three of four from Toronto this season...Ovechkin is the sixth-youngest player in NHL history to hit 300 scores, at 25 years, 200 days. Only Steve Yzerman, Mike Bossy, Dale Hawerchuk, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky did it faster. All five are Hall of Famers...The Russian also reached the milestone in 473 games, seventh-fastest all-time...Caps forward Alexander Semin did not make the trip for unknown reasons...Washington finishes its regular season with a home-and-home with Florida on Wednesday and Saturday.
04/06 02:09:25 ET