Leafs Drop Fourth Straight

Associated Press | Friday, 01.10.2014 / 10:40 PM

WASHINGTON -- Joel Ward scored the go-ahead goal with just over 8 minutes left in the third period, and Alex Ovechkin added a goal and an assist as the Washington Capitals edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Friday night.

Nicklas Backstrom also scored, and goalie Michal Neuvirth made 32 saves in his first game in seven weeks as the Capitals won on back-to-back nights for the fourth time this year.

It was the fourth straight loss for Toronto after a 3-2 victory over Detroit on Jan. 1 in the Winter Classic, and the Maple Leafs have been outscored 21-7 in the defeats. James Van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel each had a goal and an assist.

Kessel's team-high 21st goal gave Toronto a short-lived 2-1 lead in the third when his shot went off the stick of Washington defenceman Karl Alzner and over the shoulder of Neuvirth.

The Caps got the equalizer in similar fashion with 15:24 left as Backstrom's severe-angle shot went off the skate of Maple Leafs centre Jay McClement and past Jonathan Bernier for his 11th goal.

Ward's winner, his 13th of the season, came with 8:10 left, 6 seconds after Toronto had killed a penalty, as he fired a slap shot from 15 feet out on a pass from Marcus Johansson.

After that, Neuvirth kept Washington in command, making his final save with 12 seconds left.

The last time the 25-year-old was set to play for the Capitals, on Nov. 29, he suffered a leg injury in warmups. He had not suited up for a game since. With the Caps playing their second of five games in a span of seven days, Braden Holtby struggling and rookie Philipp Grubauer coming off a taxing 4-3 win Thursday night at Tampa Bay, Neuvirth made his first start since Nov. 22.

In the absence of Neuvirth, Grubauer (6-2-3) emerged as perhaps the team's most reliable goalie, prompting Neuvirth to request a trade late last month.

NOTES: Washington D John Erskine had an eventful second period, drawing a pair of five-minute penalties for fighting. The scraps were against Cody Franson and Colton Orr.

Scoring Summary
1st Period
2nd Period
06:39WSH Alex Ovechkin (32) ASST: Mikhail Grabovski (20), Mike Green (19) 1 - 0 WSH
09:08TOR PPG - James van Riemsdyk (16) ASST: Phil Kessel (19), Tyler Bozak (12) 1 - 1 Tie
3rd Period
00:54TOR Phil Kessel (21) ASST: James van Riemsdyk (17), Carl Gunnarsson (5) 2 - 1 TOR
04:36WSH Nicklas Backstrom (11) ASST: NONE 2 - 2 Tie
11:51WSH Joel Ward (13) ASST: Marcus Johansson (23), Alex Ovechkin (14) 3 - 2 WSH
Three Stars of the Game
Michal Neuvirth
Michal Neuvirth
SA: 34TOI: 59:58
GA: 2EV: 24-25
PIM: 0PP: 6-7
SV%: .941SH: 2-2
Alex Ovechkin
Alex Ovechkin
G: 1Shots: 5
A: 1Hits: 5
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 21:22
James van Riemsdyk
James van Riemsdyk
G: 1Shots: 5
A: 1Hits: 4
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 0TOI: 21:11
Penalty Summary
1st Period
10:00TOR Nikolay Kulemin  Holding against  John Erskine
13:40WSH Aaron Volpatti  Cross checking against  Nazem Kadri
2nd Period
04:01TOR Dion Phaneuf  Roughing against  John Erskine
04:01WSH John Erskine  Roughing against  Dion Phaneuf
04:01WSH John Erskine  Roughing against  Dion Phaneuf
07:20WSH Mikhail Grabovski  Tripping against  Jake Gardiner
10:03TOR Carl Gunnarsson  Interference against  Eric Fehr
14:53WSH Tom Wilson  Fighting (maj) against  Carter Ashton
14:53TOR Carter Ashton  Fighting (maj) against  Tom Wilson
14:58WSH John Erskine  Fighting (maj) against  Colton Orr
14:58TOR Colton Orr  Fighting (maj) against  John Erskine
17:17TOR Nikolay Kulemin  Tripping against  Mikhail Grabovski
3rd Period
09:44TOR David Clarkson  Tripping against  Marcus Johansson
shots by period
Team Stats
Power Plays1/30/4
Faceoff Wins3934
Blocked Shots2016
Penalty Minutes2018
3D. PhaneufD00-11223:57
4C. FransonD00-14022:36
8T. GleasonD00-11019:00
11J. McClementC00-22018:15
12M. RaymondL0001017:37
19J. LupulL0005015:45
21J. van RiemsdykL1105021:11
28C. OrrR000053:05
29J. D'AmigoR000105:47
36C. GunnarssonD01-10219:46
37C. AshtonR000053:15
41N. KuleminL00-11415:12
42T. BozakC01-13022:13
43N. KadriC0001016:46
44M. RiellyD0001015:13
51J. GardinerD0001019:33
71D. ClarksonR00-24213:52
81P. KesselR1103020:11
45J. Bernier3235.91458:46
4J. ErskineD0002913:37
8A. OvechkinL1115021:22
16E. FehrC0003016:03
19N. BackstromC1003019:51
20T. BrouwerR0012021:42
21B. LaichC0011021:20
24A. VolpattiL000027:23
25J. ChimeraL0001014:16
27K. AlznerD00-13020:09
42J. WardR1014014:37
43T. WilsonR000155:36
52M. GreenD0132022:04
58C. CarrickD0001013:37
74J. CarlsonD00-14024:32
81D. OrlovD0021017:48
83J. BeagleR000108:38
84M. GrabovskiC0121217:53
90M. JohanssonL0110013:46
30M. Neuvirth3234.94159:58