TORONTO – Ron Wilson’s early wake-up call didn’t produce immediate results from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Milan Jurcina’s third-period goal stood up as the winner Saturday as the Washington Capitals beat the sluggish Maple Leafs 2-1.
Karl Alzner also scored for Washington (15-9-3) while Nik Antropov replied for the Maple Leafs (9-12-6).
Wilson was unhappy with his team’s recent three-game Western road trip and had them skate in Phoenix early Friday morning before flying back across the continent. Perhaps predictably, they didn’t have much energy after enduring that busy stretch.
It might end up being a particularly costly loss for Toronto as Luke Schenn and Niklas Hagman both left the game during the second period. There was no immediate word on their injuries.
Alzner got Washington on the scoreboard with the first goal of his NHL career. The 20-year-old defenceman floated a shot by Vesa Toskala – who was screened by Alex Ovechkin – at 1:41 of the second period.
The Capitals looked to have taken a 2-0 lead midway through the period, but Brooks Laich’s goal was called back after video review showed that he kicked the puck in. That decision drew one of the loudest ovations of the night at Air Canada Centre.
Ovechkin has dominated the Leafs with 11 goals in 13 games against them during his career, but wasn’t able to add to that total. He had a couple of good chances and was robbed by Toskala late in the second period when he broke free of defenceman Jeff Finger and nearly scored while lying on his stomach. He also had a shot go off the post in the third period.
Even though the Leafs were only trailing by a goal after 40 minutes, the deficit felt bigger because they weren’t creating many scoring chances. Toronto had directed just 12 shots at Brent Johnson by that point.
The Leafs had a few more good chances in the third period, especially when Ovechkin took successive penalties.
Antropov finally broke through on the second of those power plays. The Leafs winger scored his 10th goal of the season at 6:12 when he beat Johnson with a wrist shot not long after the Caps goalie looked like he might have injured himself making a toe save.
Johnson stayed in the game and watched Jurcina score the eventual winner just one minute after Antropov had tied it. Jurcina’s blast from the point found its way through a crowd and behind Toskala.
The Maple Leafs pressed for the equalizer after Toskala was pulled with 90 seconds to go, but weren’t able to come up with another comeback. They’ve now won just four times in 13 home games this season.
Notes: Announced attendance was 19,416 … After going 17 games without being outshot, the Leafs have been outshot in five of six games … Mike Green (shoulder), Sergei Fedorov (ankle), Tom Poti (groin), Alexander Semin (torso), Brian Pothier (concussion), Chris Clark (forearm), Jeff Schultz (finger) and John Erskine (concussion) sat out for the banged-up Caps … Toronto was without Jamal Mayers (hand), Jonas Frogren (arm) and Mike Van Ryn (hand) … Washington’s top six scorers are all 25 or younger … Cliff Fletcher, now a consultant with the Leafs, attended his first home game since Brian Burke was hired as general manager.