Capitals double up Maple Leafs 4-2
WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington linemates Joel Ward and Jason Chimera often play in the shadow of their higher-profile teammates.
On Sunday afternoon, they sparked the Capitals to a much-needed victory.
On a day when Alex Ovechkin was held to one shot on goal, the Capitals’ third line scored twice in a three-goal first period and the Capitals held on for 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ward had a goal and an assist and Chimera also tallied for Washington, which scored on three of its first five shots for a 3-0 lead
“I’ve counted on Wardo and Chimmer all year long,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “They play together — penalty kill, power play. Big bodies that we count on for a lot of minutes.
“It’s good to see them get rewarded because you don’t get a lot of accolades based on that. You know, doing grunt work.”
Ward, in his seventh season, reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time and added his 20th assist, while Chimera scored his 13th goal and has points in seven of his past nine games.
“A lot of the time (Ward) and Chimmer and (center Eric Fehr) get overshadowed because of the names we have on this team,” Troy Brouwer said. “Night in night out, I think they are our most consistent line.”
Brouwer scored the other first-period goal for Washington and added an empty-netter with four seconds left to seal the win after Toronto had pulled within 3-2 in the second period.
The Capitals begin a three-game swing Tuesday in Anaheim, Calif.
“You’ve just got to win them all,” Oates said of upcoming games at Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose. “I know they’re better than us in the standings, but you’ve got to have the attitude you’re going to beat them.”
Recently acquired goalie Jaroslav Halak, making his fifth straight start, had 27 saves in the win.
Karl Alzner assisted on two Washington goals.
Dion Phaneuf had a goal and an assist for Toronto and Troy Bodie also scored. The Maple Leafs are 2-2 on their five-game road trip.
“Obviously we were pretty flat the first period,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. “It looked like we were still in our afternoon nap. Playing an afternoon game just took us a good part of the game to get warmed up and get awake.”
James Reimer, starting in place of regular goalie Jonathan Bernier, who suffered a lower body injury in Thursday’s win at Los Angeles, finished with 29 saves.
Washington’s power play was 2 for 4. Toronto was 0 for 3. The Capitals have 12 power-play goals in their past 10 games.
“They got a good power play,” Bodie said. “We know that. They kind of picked us apart.”
Phaneuf pulled Toronto within 3-2 at 8:05 of the second period when he floated a shot from the point through a screen and past Halak for his eighth goal.
Toronto then came up empty on three consecutive power-play chances over a seven-minute stretch.
Two of Washington’s first-period goals were the result of crisp passing sequences.
With Toronto a man down, Marcus Johansson took a pass behind the goal line from Nicklas Backstrom and fed Brouwer in the slot. Brouwer one-timed low shot past Reimer for his 19th goal just 3:34 into the first period.
Ward’s effort in front made it 2-0 minutes later. Alzner’s shot was stopped in front, but Ward outdueled Reimer for the puck and his backhand deflected off Chimera, who was credited with the goal.
“We weren’t good enough in the first 10 minutes,” Reimer said. “You can’t spot a team three goals. We just weren’t sharp, you know? Myself included. And it cost us.”
The Capitals soon got another power play, and this time it was Evgeny Kuznetsov who made nice pass in front, to Dustin Penner. Penner, stationed to the left of Reimer, shoveled a backhand pass across to Ward, who buried it in the open net.
“Chimmer is one of the fastest guys in the league. I just try to give him the puck,” Ward said. “There’s no secret. I just try to hide in the weeds and try to look for some loose pucks.”
Toronto didn’t get its second shot on goal until the 17:15 mark of the first period, but it went in as Bodie beat Halak over his right shoulder.
NOTES: The Capitals are 20-0-3 this season when leading after the second period. ... Capitals C Brooks Laich (lower body injury) was a scratch and has missed two of the past three games. Oates said he’ll visit a doctor in St. Louis this week. ... Toronto concludes its road trip Tuesday in Detroit.