NHL Game Summary - Washington at Toronto
(Tuesday, February 28th)
Final Score: Washington 5, Toronto 3
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Matt Pettinger scored twice and Brent Johnson was sharp with 26 saves, as the Washington Capitals defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 5-3, in the first post-Olympic game for both teams at Air Canada Centre.
Alexander Ovechkin, Ben Clymer and Brian Willsie also scored for Washington, which halted a four-game skid. The Capitals' last win came on February 3 against these Maple Leafs.
Darcy Tucker registered a goal and an assist for the Maple Leafs, who have lost three straight games. Nik Antropov and Chad Kilger also scored in the losing effort.
Goaltender Ed Belfour allowed five goals on 27 shots for Toronto, which welcomed back centerman Eric Lindros to the lineup. Lindros had missed 27 games with a wrist injury.
With the contest tied 2-2 at the start of the second period, the Capitals took control with three unanswered goals throughout the stanza for a commanding three-goal advantage.
As they did in the opening session, the visitors scored in the first minute when a fluke goal that was credited to Ovechkin gave the Caps a 3-2 edge.
Following a clearing attempt by Belfour that failed to exit the zone, the netminder made a pad save on a quick shot from the right half-wall. But the puck kicked out to the slot and caromed off the knee pad of Ovechkin and past a surprised and out-of-position Belfour just 19 seconds in.
Johnson kept Washington in front with a great glove save at the right post on Tucker during a Toronto power play. Johnson stayed focused and continued to make key saves -- 11 throughout the period -- that gave his team momentum.
Another Washington fluke goal at the 17:12 mark had the Leafs shaking their heads. The puck was deep in the Toronto end and took a strange bounce off the rear boards before an even stranger one off the skate of Capitals forward Matt Bradley. The two deflections combined to result in a point-blank one-timer by Clymer from the top of the crease and a 4-2 Caps advantage.
With under a minute to go in the frame, a short-handed tally gave Washington the three-goal lead. Pettinger blocked a shot with his shin pads at his own blue line, won a race for the puck going the other way, and followed his breakaway rebound by pushing it under Belfour's pads with 46 seconds to play.
"It was great (to score two goals) but (this win) goes to the hard work we did during the (Olympic) break," Pettinger said. "We did a much better job than we have on the penalty kill."
Kilger gave the home crowd a bit of life with his 13th goal at 7:54 of the third. Streaking down the left-wing side, he released a blazing slap shot from a sharp angle in the left circle that flew over the near-side shoulder of Johnson.
Johnson, though, shut the door the rest of the way and Washington skated off with its third win in four games against Toronto this season.
"Our defensive zone play was unbelieveable," Johnson said. "It goes back to the bounces - Ovechkin got one and scored and Matt (Pettinger) got one and scored."
After Willsie's 12th goal just 37 seconds after the opening face off, the Capitals increased their lead to two at the 4:46 mark of the first period.
Toronto failed to control the puck and after a turnover, the disc ended up on the stick of Pettinger, who fired home a wrist shot from inside the left circle. The power-play marker came after Aki Berg was whistled for hooking at 3:08.
But the Maple Leafs settled down and tied the contest with a pair of goals in the latter stages of the period.
First, at 15:47, Antropov's seventh goal cut the Leafs deficit to 2-1. Tucker held the puck along the goal line to the right of the net and sent a pass out to Antropov, whose one-timer from the bottom of the left circle beat Johnson.
Shortly after the face off that followed, Brendan Witt was sent to the penalty box for hooking and the Leafs power play went to work. Tucker worked a nice give-and-go with Mats Sundin and it resulted in a 2-2 tie. Tucker sent a pass from along the right half-wall down low to Sundin, who skated in along the goal line before passing back to Tucker for a successful one-timer from the face-off dot with two minutes remaining in the stanza.
Sundin, Toronto's captain, also wore the "C" for Team Sweden, which captured the gold medal at the Olympics last weekend in Torino, Italy...The Leafs have just three wins in their last 16 games overall...Ovechkin leads all NHL rookies with 70 points...Pettinger now has three short-handed goals this season and recorded his first career two-goal game...Washington also stopped a five-game road slide...Attendance was 19,449.
02/28 23:15:25 ET