Leafs win a laugher over Caps
MAPLE LEAFS 7, CAPITALS 1
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.