Ovechkin Scores Winner, Capitals Beat Maple Leafs in OT

TORONTO — Alex Ovechkin scored his second goal of the game as part of a four-point night while on the power play in overtime as the Washington Capitals defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 on Tuesday.

John Carlson also scored twice for Washington (9-2-3). Nicklas Backstrom added three assists, while Braden Holtby made 27 stops.

Auston Matthews, with two goals and an assist, and Andreas Johnsson replied for Toronto (6-5-3), which got 30 saves from Frederik Andersen.

The Capitals went on the man advantage 21 seconds into the extra period when William Nylander tripped Tom Wilson.

Washington set up camp in Toronto’s zone, with Ovechkin, Backstrom and Carlson all firing away, but couldn’t find a winner.

Mitch Marner then high-sticked Carlson one second before Nylander’s penalty expired, keeping the Leafs on the penalty kill.

Ovechkin scored his 11th on a bullet one-timer from his patented spot in the left face-off circle at the four-minute mark of the extra period.

Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin
Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker, File)

Toronto got a power play — its eighth of the night — with three minutes to go in the third period when Capitals defenceman Radko Gudas was whistled for delay of game after driving Alexander Kerfoot into the Washington goal.

Matthews, Nylander and Kasperi Kapanen all had good chances with man advantage, but Holtby was there at every turn to force overtime.

Tied 2-2 after 40 minutes, Matthews put Toronto ahead early in the third when the Leafs centre buried his 11th overall. Toronto’s power play had been 0 for 6 before finally connecting when he took a pass from Nylander and ripped a shot upstairs at 1:46 of the third.  

The goal came after Wilson took a run at Toronto defenceman Tyson Barrie, drawing a response from Leafs fourth-liner Frederik Gauthier.

But the Capitals tied things at 4:10 when T.J. Oshie stepped past Leafs blue-liner Morgan Rielly — who logged big minutes with his team down to five defencemen after Wilson took Jake Muzzin out with a hit in the first — and fed Ovechkin for his 10th.

Toronto Maple Leafs Morgan Rielly
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

The Capitals entered 5-0-1 over their last six — including 3-0-1 on a season-long five-game road trip that took them through western Canada before wrapping up at Scotiabank Arena — and an NHL-best 6-1-1 mark away from home.

Maple Leafs Continue to Struggle

Struggling to find traction early in the season, Toronto was coming off Saturday’s 5-2 loss at Montreal in second half of a back-to-back following Friday’s 4-1 home win against San Jose. Washington, meanwhile, rebounded from a 5-1 deficit late in the second period to beat Vancouver 6-5 in a shootout Friday.

Ovechkin, who endured repeated playoff failures before finally breaking through with his franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 2018, called the Leafs out for their approach in what has overall been a sputtering start to the season after Tuesday’s morning skate.

“They’re still a young group of guys, hopefully they’re going to learn,” said Washington’s 34-year-old captain. “But it’s up to them how they want to do it. If they want to play for themselves or if they want to win the Stanley Cup, they have to play differently.”

The Leafs, who played their league-leading ninth home game, responded by opening the scoring just 40 seconds into the first when Matthews found Johnsson in front and he ripped his fourth upstairs on Holtby.

The Capitals got level at 10:47 after the Leafs were caught running around in their own zone. Ovechkin whipped a pass across the ice that Carlson let bounce off the boards before one-timing a laser beam into the top corner on Andersen from the right face-off dot for his sixth goal and eye-popping 22nd point of October.

John Carlson Washington Capitals
John Carlson, Washington Capitals (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Toronto had a great opportunity on a 5-on-3 power play for 43 seconds, but couldn’t connect after using its timeout to keep the No. 1 unit fresh.

Washington got a two-man advantage of its own in the second and made it count when Carlson took a feed from Ovechkin and blasted his seventh — and 23rd point — past a helpless Andersen to make it 2-1 at 7:59.

The 29-year-old Carlson finished the month two points shy of the record of 25 by a defenceman in October set by Al MacInnis in 1990.

Washington, which beat Toronto 4-3 at home on Oct. 16, appeared set to head to intermission up a goal, but Matthews tied it seemingly out of nowhere with 32.9 on a slick deflection of Barrie’s shot between the legs and into the top corner.

Toronto defenceman Travis Dermott played his first game of 2019-20 after shoulder surgery for an injury sustained in the Leafs’ first-round loss to Boston last spring. Head coach Mike Babcock said he expects captain John Tavares, who broke a finger late in that earlier loss to Washington, to make his return before winger and linemate Zach Hyman (knee).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2019.


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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press