Capitals

Capitals

Final score: Washington Capitals 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 1

How it happened: The Capitals dominated the opening frame, outshooting the Leafs 13-3 and outscoring them 1-0 thanks to a Lars Eller goal off a great cycle play by the third line. Kevin Shattenkirk scored his first goal as a Cap on a power play in the second period. Nate Schmidt added Tom Wilson added exclamation points in the third period. Mitch Marner ended the shutout bid late in the third.

What it means: The win is Washington’s ninth in their last 11 games. The Caps maintained a five-point lead over Pittsburgh for the top spot in the Metropolitan. They did not clinch the division or the Presidents’ Trophy, however, because of Pittsburgh’s win over Columbus. The magic number for Washington clinch is one.

Goals

Caps goal: Lars Eller from Brett Connolly and Andre Burakovsky at 14:34 in the 1st period. Burakovsky turned on the jets to beat out an icing call behind the net and tapped it along the boards to Eller. The cycle was on as Eller passed to Connolly who passed to Burakovsky who backhanded a pass that Eller one-timed into the back of the net. Caps 1, Maple Leafs 0

Caps goal: Kevin Shattenkirk (power play) from Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin at 10:00 in the 2nd period. The Caps gave the Leafs a different look on the power play with a lot of player movement. As Backstrom held the puck, Shattenkirk and Ovechkin switched positions with Shattenkirk heading to the circle and Ovechkin going to the point. That drew a penalty killer too high to Ovechkin, leaving an open lane for the cross-ice pass to Shattenkirk. From there, the goal was practically a layup. Caps 2, Maple Leafs 0

 

Caps goal: Nate Schmidt from Justin Williams and Brett Connolly at 8:11 in the 3rd period. An aggressive forecheck generated a turnover in the Leafs' zone. Williams pounced on it and gave it to Connolly. Connolly skated to the corner to draw the defense, then backhanded a pass to the high slot and a wide open Schmidt. Schmidt wristed the puck home. Caps 3, Leafs 0

Caps goal: Tom Wilson from Daniel Winnik and Jay Beagle at 16:46 in the 3rd. Winnik chipped the puck into the Leaf's zone as a dump-in, but Wilson caught the Leafs on a horrendous change and was in all by himself. He cut inside then slid the puck through the five-hole for the goal. Caps 4, Leafs 0

Leafs goal: Mitch Marner (power play) from James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak at 18:52 in the 3rd period. Van Riemsdyk pulled off a great pass through the legs to setup a wide open Marner for the easy goal. Caps 4, Leafs 1

3 stars

1. Lars Eller: How good did that goal feel? Eller scored his first non-empty net goal since Feb. 7 thanks to a great cycle play. He also drew two penalties on the night and was relentless on the forecheck. His effort level was fantastic all game long.

2. Alex Ovechkin: Columbus may have awoken something in Ovechkin in Sunday's game because he was a one-man wrecking ball to start this game. He finished with a team-high four hits on the night and also registered an assist on On Shattenkirk's goal.

3. Philipp Grubauer: Grubauer nearly earned his fourth shutout of the season turning aside 27 of the 28 shots he faced. The Leafs did not manage to get many pucks on net, but he was up to the task whenever they did.

Look ahead: The Caps return home on Wednesday to host the New York Rangers. They then wrap-up the regular season with another back-to-back on Saturday and starting in Boston and then ending in Washington against Florida.

Tell us what you think: After Tuesday's results, Washington and Toronto were slated at first round opponents for the playoffs. The standings are not yet final and bearing in mind that a postseason series is very different than Game 79 of the regular season, how do you think the Caps would fare in a seven-game series against the Leafs?