FINAL
BOS
2
PIT
5
FINAL
TOR
0
WSH
2
FINAL
CAR
0
FLA
2
FINAL
STL
2
CBJ
1
FINAL
CGY
4
MIN
3
FINAL
PHI
1
NJD
4
FINAL OT
NYI
3
NYR
4
FINAL SO
LAK
3
CHI
2
TOR
35-37-10
WSH
42-32-8

23 SOG
23 SOG

Capitals 2, Maple Leafs 0

Associated Press | Sunday, 03.11.2012 / 7:32 PM

The Washington Capitals are starting to look like a playoff team.

Michal Neuvirth made 23 saves for his third shutout of the season, and Brooks Laich and Matthieu Perreault scored as the Caps carried over the momentum from Saturday's win at Boston with a 2-0 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Verizon Center on Sunday.

Washington has now won three in a row and has moved four points ahead of Buffalo and Winnipeg in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Caps also remained just one point behind Florida for the Southeast Division lead as the Panthers beat Carolina at the BankAtlantic Center.

"It's always nice when you're back-and-forth, back-and-forth, and you're still in it," Alex Ovechkin said. "It's nice when you know, like, the season's not over."

Jonas Gustavsson made 21 saves for the Maple Leafs, who have lost four straight and 10 of 11. They trail the Capitals by eight points. Toronto was shut out in both of its weekend games, losing 1-0 after a shootout at home to Philadelphia on Saturday night.

"Are we sacrificing risk hockey for offense? Yeah, I would agree with that," Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "I believe that the teams that play better defense, usually the offense comes around. We are starving for offense right now; we need a bounce to go our way. It's not like we are not creating quality scoring chances; we are creating them."

Laich created his scoring chance by doing his homework. He watched Toronto's game against the Flyers on Saturday night and noticed how Jake Gardiner had a tendency to make a casual no-look drop passes in the neutral zone.

So when the Maple Leafs went on the power play in the first period, Laich slipped in behind Gardiner and picked off the pass, then went in to score on the shorthanded breakaway.

"We do the same play," Washington coach Dale Hunter said. "It's a little high risk, so if you read it right, you get breakaways off of it. ... (Laich) is watching it to learn from it, and you pick up anything. He wants to win, and he's kind of like a coach."

Laich's goal gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead for the fourth straight game -- a reversal from a recent slump when the other teams kept scoring first.

"Big -- really big -- 48 hours," Laich said.

Perreault added a cushion in the first minute of the third period, putting in the rebound after Gustavsson made a kick save on shot by Alexander Semin.

Neuvirth did the rest, getting his seventh career shutout in his 100th NHL game. He got the start after Tomas Vokoun won the previous two games.

"Both guys are ready to go," Hunter said. "And that's good for me."

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.
1st2nd3rdT
TOR
WSH
Scoring Summary
1st Period
10:07WSH SHG - Brooks Laich (14) Snap shot - ASST: NONE 1 - 0 WSH
2nd Period
NONE
3rd Period
00:42WSH Mathieu Perreault (12) Wrist shot - ASST: Alexander Semin (26), Dennis Wideman (33) 2 - 0 WSH
Three Stars of the Game
Michal Neuvirth
1st
SA: 23TOI: 60:00
GA: 0EV: 23-23
PIM: 0PP: 0-0
SV%: 1.000SH: 0-0
Brooks Laich
2nd
G: 1Shots: 3
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 17:51
Mathieu Perreault
3rd
G: 1Shots: 1
A: 0Hits: 3
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 14:52
Penalty Summary
1st Period
02:32TOR Phil Kessel  Too many men/ice - bench
08:27WSH Alexander Semin  Tripping against  Carl Gunnarsson
2nd Period
NONE
3rd Period
NONE
shots by period
PeriodTORWSH
1st78
2nd98
3rd77
Total2323
Team Stats
CategoryTORWSH
Power Plays0/10/1
Hits2926
Faceoff Wins2415
Giveaways910
Takeaways313
Blocked Shots1421
Penalty Minutes22
  • TORONTO
  • WASHINGTON
#skatersPosGA+/-SPIMTOI
2L. SchennD0000016:24
3D. PhaneufD0003023:01
8M. KomisarekD00-11018:23
9C. ArmstrongR000008:07
12T. ConnollyC00-21018:53
15M. LombardiC000009:54
16C. MacArthurL0003019:38
20D. SteckelC0001011:27
24J. LilesD00-11025:23
36C. GunnarssonD00-10022:11
37C. AshtonR0003011:20
39M. FrattinR0002011:11
41N. KuleminL00-11018:26
42T. BozakC00-10017:06
46J. CrabbR0001011:16
51J. GardinerD00-11014:38
81P. KesselR00-13019:55
84M. GrabovskiC00-12022:40
#GoaliesSvSASv%TOI
50J. Gustavsson2123.91358:07
#skatersPosGA+/-SPIMTOI
6D. WidemanD0101025:43
8A. OvechkinR0001017:44
20T. BrouwerR0002015:39
21B. LaichC1013017:51
22M. KnubleR0001013:15
23K. AucoinC0003011:34
25J. ChimeraL0010013:34
26M. HendricksC0004015:37
27K. AlznerD0020019:41
28A. SeminR0111216:13
42J. WardR0000010:56
44R. HamrlikD0011018:39
55J. SchultzD0000017:16
74J. CarlsonD0011018:17
81D. OrlovD0002018:42
83J. BeagleR0002015:55
85M. PerreaultC1011014:52
90M. JohanssonC0010016:32
#GoaliesSvSASv%TOI
30M. Neuvirth23231.00060:00