The Capitals can't seem to catch much luck when it comes to the health of their defensemen. The latest blow is that Jeff Schultz will miss the next four-to-six weeks with a fractured thumb, suffered late in the second period on the penalty kill when a shot by Toronto's Luke Schenn hit his hand.
It added extra insult to an ugly 5-4 shootout loss for Washington, which marked the third time this season the Capitals have given up three goals in the third period.
Schultz averaged 21 minutes and 26 seconds of ice time per game along with a team-high average of 3:30 while shorthanded each outing and has not missed any of the Capitals' 29 contests up to this point. This injury makes the recent addition of Scott Hannan even more valuable as it's likely that Washington will turn to the veteran shutdown defenseman to help shoulder some of the load.
Hannan played 23:15 against Toronto as the Capitals juggled defensive combinations, but everything evened out in terms of time on the ice as each blue-liner other than Schultz played at least 20 minutes Monday night.
John Erskine said Monday morning that he was healthy and if that is the case he should round out the Capitals' group of six defensemen as they move forward without Schultz. Tyler Sloan was placed on injured reserve and won't be available to return to the lineup until Sunday's contest against the New York Rangers at the earliest.
Some other notes from this loss to the Leafs:
--Alex Ovechkin tallied his 12th goal of the season and second in as many games after snapping a nine-game scoring drought that tied his career longest skid. His marker against Jonas Gustavsson was a particularly trademark move as Ovechkin took advantage of an unusually large cushion left in front of him by the Toronto defense as he skated down the left wing.
Ovechkin released a blistering shot from the top of the faceoff circle that Gustavsson had little chance to react to.
--The Capitals found the chances that Bruce Boudreau believed were missing in the Atlanta game on Saturday in abundance against the Maple Leafs in the first two periods. Washington drove to the net, followed up with second-chance opportunities and tried for deflections and traffic in front of Gustavsson.
Mathieu Perreault scored his first goal by heading toward the crease and turning to tip Tom Poti's shot from the point into the net. And Mike Knuble stuck with a shot that was blocked by a Toronto player in front of the net to reclaim the puck and fire it past Gustavsson glove side.
Those successes meant little by the time the shootout ended at Verizon Center though.
"I thought we dominated all areas of the game [in the first two periods]," Matt Hendricks said. "The physical areas, the goaltending was better than theirs, our scorers were better than theirs except a giant hiccup there in the third period there. To lose three in a row is tough we have to fight our way out of it.
"I wasn't feeling [the game] slipping away," Hendricks said. "We've got a team that can beat anybody, we should have done it tonight."
--Poti came back to the Washington lineup after missing the past two contests with a groin strain and tallied three assists for the first time since April 5, 2007 when he was a member of the New York Islanders in a game against the Maple Leafs.
--In his fourth game with the Capitals this season, Perreault notched the first two-goal game of his career and made his presence known from his first shift on. I'll have more about Perreault's strong game in tomorrow's morning roundup.