Scoring at Every Turn, Caps Enjoy a Turnaround

Alex Ovechkin
Alex Ovechkin celebrates after scoring his second goal of the game in the second period. (Adrian Wyld - AP)
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 30, 2007

TORONTO, Oct. 29 -- The slumping Washington Capitals were long overdue for a night on which almost everything went their way.

And that night finally arrived, rather unexpectedly, Monday in front of a sellout crowd at Air Canada Centre.

Grinders Boyd Gordon, Matt Pettinger, Matt Bradley and Brian Sutherby all scored for the first time this season, defenseman Jeff Schultz chimed in with his first career goal, and Alex Ovechkin netted his first multiple-goal performance in 12 games as the Capitals thrashed the Toronto Maple Leafs, 7-1.

"We looked down our lineup and there was too many zeros," Coach Glen Hanlon said. "It's really important for our [checking line forwards] to shut the other team down. We didn't want them thinking they had to score, but it gets to a certain point where they have to contribute something down the line offensively."

The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for the Capitals, who won for only second time in eight games. The seven goals, meanwhile, were their most in a game since defeating Tampa Bay by the same score last March.

"We talked after the St. Louis game about getting back to the way we played the first couple of games," said veteran goaltender Olie Kolzig, who recovered nicely from allowing the Maple Leafs a goal on their first shot, stopping the next 32. "We were suffocating. We didn't take as many penalties. We played so good in our own end, that it created chances at the other end."

"Hopefully we don't get too ahead of ourselves and think this is going to happen every night. It was just one of those nights where for the Maple Leafs, the puck just went in the back of their net."

Things got so bad so fast for the Maple Leafs, who have lost six of nine at home, they were booed off the ice as they retreated to the locker room for the second intermission, 6-1. The fans also jeered the Maple Leafs' goalies -- Vesa Toskala started the game but was pulled in favor of Andrew Raycroft after the Capitals' fourth goal -- after they made routine saves virtually all night.

The Capitals, however, didn't want to hear about the Maple Leafs' struggles after what they've been through recently.

"We've had some trouble scoring this, and to pop four in the first period," said Sutherby, who was playing for only the second time this season. "That was huge."

Sutherby found himself in the lineup because of the Capitals' dire injury situation. They were again without three of their most important players, with Chris Clark, Alexander Semin and Tom Poti all suffering from various ailments.

Clark missed his second consecutive game after being struck on the left ear with an Ovechkin slap shot in the final minute of Friday's loss to Vancouver. Semin re-injured his left ankle in the first period of Saturday's loss in St. Louis and Poti has been slow to recover from a strained groin muscle that's sidelined him the past three games.

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