Leafs win a laugher over Caps



TORONTO • Stuck in a los­ing funk and with play­ers seem­ingly get­ting in­jured with ev­ery pass­ing day, the Toronto Maple Leafs des­per­ately needed a game to re­build their shaken psy­che. They needed a con­fi­dence-restor­ing per­for­mance from be­lea­guered goal­tender Jonas Gus­tavs­son. They needed their mi­nor-league call-ups to break out of­fen­sively.

Most of all, they needed to get back to win­ning hockey games. In a 7-1 vic­tory against the Washington Cap­i­tals on Satur­day, the Leafs got all those things and more.

Gus­tavs­son stopped 40 shots, but the story was the of­fence as seven dif­fer­ent Toronto play­ers scored goals. Phil Kes­sel notched his league-lead­ing 14th goal and 27th point; Jof­frey Lupul had a goal and three as­sists to move into third in NHL scor­ing with 24 points; and Matt Frat­tin fi­nally scored his first NHL goal.

“I didn’t ex­pect that in a mil­lion years,” Lupul said of his sea­son so far. “I knew I was go­ing to have a good year. I didn’t ex­pect to be in the top of the league in goal scor­ing. It’s a long year and hope­fully I can stay there.”

The Leafs, who re­main among the top eight in the East­ern Con­fer­ence, also hope to stay in a play­off spot af­ter what had been a tough cou­ple of weeks. This win will help. It snapped a three-game los­ing streak for Toronto, which en­tered the game hav­ing won once in its last six games.

“We had every­thing click­ing tonight,” said coach Ron Wilson, whose team now heads out on a four-game road trip, be­gin­ning to­day against the Carolina Hur­ri­canes. “Hope­fully, we can get some­thing go­ing.”

If their op­po­nents are play­ing as poorly as the Cap­i­tals did, the Leafs should not have any prob­lems. Losers now of four straight, the Cap­i­tals have just one win in the last seven games.

“If I said they’re play­ing the way I want them to play, then I’m ac­cept­ing de­feat,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “That’s not the case at all. I’m sure there’s im­prove­ment that’s needed from ev­ery­body, top to bot­tom.”

No, it cer­tainly does not get any eas­ier than this. But give Toronto credit.

The team was with­out in­jured goal­tender James Reimer, for­wards Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke Macarthur, Matthew Lom­bardi and Colby Armstrong, and de­fence­man Mike Komis­arek, yet the Leafs showed just how much depth they have.

The Leafs, who fired twice as many shots as the Cap­i­tals in the first pe­riod, took a 1-0 lead 99 sec­onds into the game when Lupul in­ter­cepted a pass in the of­fen­sive zone and then found Tim Con­nolly in the slot.

The Cap­i­tals would tie the game less than minute later on a slap­shot from Brooks Laich, but with 44 sec­onds re­main­ing in the pe­riod, Toronto re­gained the lead when Frat­tin took a pass from fel­low rookie Joe Col­borne and beat To­mas Vok­oun with a wrist shot. Tyler Bozak, Cody Fran­son and David Steckel had the Leafs’ other goals.


Tim Con­nolly cel­e­brates his goal in Satur­day’s 7-1 rout of Washington by the Maple Leafs.

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