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Capitals vs Leafs Recap: Ovechkin Ties for NHL Scoring Lead, Caps Win

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Alex Ovechkin's three point night tied him with Nicklas Backstrom for the NHL scoring lead, and the Caps snapped an ugly three-game losing streak in their final game before tomorrow's trade deadline.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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Having lost three consecutive games— and two of those to Metropolitan Division rivals— and with the trade deadline coming with the next sunrise, and the first round of the playoffs not so terribly far beyond that, the Washington Capitals came into the evening looking for a sorely needed slump-buster. And who better to set the table for them than the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs, who have been in free-fall mode, and resultantly sell-the-roster mode. Alex Ovechkin got the Caps off to a great start thirty seconds into the game, and the guys in red never looked back from there, and they secured a 4-0 victory.

Sunday night's Plus/Minus:

Plus/Minus:

  • Plus: The Caps were handed an opportunity to stem their losing streak on a silver platter, and they took it. Losing to the Leafs, who were on the back end of a back-to-back, would have just been brutal. Strong performances from the captain and from Braden Holtby were just the pill— a familiar recipe for success, and one that all red-rockers will keep looking for as we head into the final full month of the NHL season.
  • Minus: No Ovi hat trick! For the love of all things, when will we see another Ovechkin hat trick?! The Great Eight's last trick came all the way back in December of 2013, when he lit the lamp four times against Ben Bishop and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And now, this...

Game highlights:

Ten more notes on the game:

  • Raise your hand if, on the final day before the trade deadline, you had Jay Beagle at 2C, Jason Chimera on a hierarchically superior line than Evgeny Kuznetsov, $4.5 million man Brooks Laich, and first-rounder Tom Wilson. After one period, the Leafs had already fired 13 shots on goal, and all of those at even strength. Things evened out as the game went on, but it wasn't exactly the performance you'd like to see against one of the League's worst possession teams. It'll be interesting to see how Curtis Glencross fits into Barry Trotz's line conceptualization Tuesday night in Columbus.
  • Yesterday Brian MacLellan made the first player-for-player trade of his tenure as he dealt Jack Hillen and a fourth round pick for Tim Gleason, who was, as expected, slotted on the bottom pairing with Mike Green. Give Gleason a wicked blocked shot, and some pretty gaudy possession numbers on the night -- these contributions amount to approximately infinitely as much good done by the last player the Capitals acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes: Joe Corvo.
  • Another day, another start, another win for Braden Holtby between the pipes. Holts was great all night, giving the Caps the solid backstop they needed to author an end to this ugly three-game slide, and his 7th shutout on the season besides. Only Marc-Andre Fleury, with eight, has more. He probably won't get much traction in the way of Vezina consideration, but in DC, we know exactly how much this guy's play means to this team's success.
  • Alex Ovechkin scored only thirty-three seconds into the game— the Caps' fastest start to any game on the campaign. It was Ovechkin's 40th tally on the season, and if you've been following Ovechkin's career, which you have, you know he's money in the bank against the Leafs. That was the captain's 29th goal in 36 games against Toronto. He added another goal. And then he added an assist Tack on 22 additional assists, and Ovechkin has 53 career points versus Toronto. Not bad.
  • James Reimer was 1-10 in his last 11 coming into this one. Reimer wasn't horrible in this one, though he certainly didn't get off on the greatest start, and it's tough to win when the guys in front of you put up an egg. Reimer's now 2-4-1 in his career against the Caps.
  • Nicklas Backstrom won't get an assist on Alex Ovechkin's second goal in this one, but the svelte Swedish was an absolute hounddog on the puck in the offensive zone on that shift, preventing it from being cleared several times. File it under "unnoticed contributions for 19", if that file does not already overfloweth.
  • With the embellishment penalty he took halfway through the second period, Tom Wilson has now secured the 4th overall spot in total penalty minutes taken in the NHL. Way to go?
  • The Caps are now 8-0-2 in their last 10 outings against Atlantic division teams, so they got that going for them, which is nice.
  • The secondary assist notched by Alex Ovechkin on Marcus Johansson's power play goal tied him with Nicklas Backstrom, John Tavares, and Jakob Voracek for the NHL scoring league. Oh captain, my captain! Could a second Art Ross trophy soon be the latest addition to an already burdened mantelpiece? That Johansson goal, by the way, was his 15th on the year— a career best.
  • Here's a list of hockey players: Michael Neuvirth, Francis Bouchard, Keith Seabrook, Josh Godfrey, Theo Ruth, Phillip DeSimone, Eric Mestery, Dmitri Kurgryshev, Dmitri Orlov, Cody Eakin, Stanislav Galiev, Chandler Stephenson, Madison Bowey, Zachary Stanford. These are the players who were drafted in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the last 10 NHL drafts by the Washington Capitals. You might not be ecstatic about what the Capitals surrendered to acquire Curtis Glencross from the Calgary Flames earlier today, but given the collective professional pedigree of the names listed here, it's tough to be too skeptical of acquiring a hard-nosed forward with close to 500 games played and 270 career points.
  • It might have been against the Maple Leafs, but regardless of quality of opponent, the Caps secured a win when they desperately needed one to generate a little bit of positive momentum as they head into the home stretch. Curtis Glencross will make his debut on Tuesday against the Blue Jackets— an evening that will see the 2014-2015 Washing Capitals as we can expect to see them in the postseason.