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Capital gains in Washington

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
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WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Darcy Tucker first multi-goal game of the season could not have come at a better time for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Tucker scored twice in the first period and defenseman Bryan McCabe added a third-period tally to lead the injury-riddled Maple Leafs to a 4-1 victory over Washington, ending the Capitals' streak of consecutive games with at least one point at 14 games.

With leading scorer Alexander Mogilny and starting goaltender Ed Belfour out with injuries, Tucker scored 7:42 into the game to give Toronto the lead before netting his eighth of the season with 67 seconds left in the first period for his first two-goal game since April 10.

""I don't measure my game through goal production. I measure my game with how hard I play every night and the amount of effort that I give and how I contribute to the team,"" Tucker said.
""Obviously, you want to chip in from time to time with some big goals because that is obviously the name of the game, but I am just happy to help the team out. It is important, especially after losing a guy like Alex, that some guys step up and try to fill the void.""

After Washington halved the deficit on a second-period tally by Dainius Zubrus, McCabe beat goaltender Olaf Kolzig at 6:28 of the third to put the Maple Leafs ahead, 3-1.

Mats Sundin added an empty-net goal for Toronto, which improved to 3-0-1 in its last four visits to the MCI Center.

Trevor Kidd filled in admirably for Belfour, who missed the game with a sore back. Signed as a free agent last August, the 30-year-old Kidd turned aside 24 shots to raise his record to 3-6-1.

""We played a lot better in the first period and played even better defensively in the second,"" said Kidd, whose team had dropped two of its previous three games. ""There were a couple chances in the third, but only a couple.""

""Sometimes you're not in it and you are relying on your goaltender, and then all of a sudden, you wake up and thank your lucky stars that nothing bad has happened and it gives you the chance to win,"" Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. ""That is what we have had recently, for sure. Eddie has been giving us the chance, and that is what Trevor did for us tonight.""

Kidd turned aside 11 shots in the opening period and made seven stops in the third, including a point-blank chance by Mike Grier 3:10 into the period.

""He played an excellent game,"" said right wing Mikael Renberg, who returned to the lineup after missing eight contests with a hand infection. ""He is a great goaltender and he showed up today. He made the key saves at the right times and kept us in the game. He was a big hero tonight.""

""He played pretty good,"" Washington coach Butch Cassidy said.

""He gave them a chance to win. I thought he made the big saves when he had to and give him credit. He was real good tonight.""

Kolzig made 19 saves for the Capitals, who had gone 8-0-3-3 to set a franchise record with at least one point in 14 consecutive games.

""I think that's the way hockey goes,"" Grier said, referring to the end of the streak. ""You get on streaks and you're playing really well and by the end of the streak, your game is not as good as it should be. You're bound to lose one and hopefully, we can just turn it right back around tomorrow.""

""I think when you're on a winning streak, towards the end of it, your game starts to slide a bit,"" Cassidy added. ""Things you were getting away with, eventually you don't, and I think tonight there was a little bit of that. But it was one of those games. Give (Toronto) credit, they did some good things.""

Washington defenseman Sergei Gonchar attempted to clear the puck around the right wing boards from behind his own net, but Travis Green was there to intercept. After taking a pass while skating through the slot, Shayne Corson fed Tucker on the right side and the 5-10 right wing tucked the puck into the net for his first goal in eight games and a 1-0 lead.

With just one tally in his previous 25 contests, Tucker increased Toronto's lead to two goals at 18:53 of the first when he deflected McCabe's wrist shot from the right point.

""All of our defensemen think they can score from out there, and sometimes you can,"" Quinn said. ""But nine times out of 10, and I don't care what kind of cannon you have, you are not going to score from there, especially not against a good goaltender like (Kolzig). But tonight, there was a wrist shot that was screened. The goaltender didn't see it and good things happen.""

The Capitals got on the scoreboard nine minutes into the second to make it 2-1. Robert Lang came away from a crowd behind the net and threw the puck in front, where Zubrus fired a one-timer past Kidd for his seventh goal of the season.

Zubrus left the game early in the third when he was the recipient of a crushing check by defenseman Wade Belak, who was playing his 100th game as a Maple Leaf.

""He's got a head injury,"" Cassidy said. ""Is it a concussion? I don't know. They just told me he would go on (injured reserve). He got his bell rung, he'll be out for a week.""

But Toronto regained its two-goal cushion less than seven minutes into the third. After a scramble in front, Kolzig lost his stick and was unable to stop McCabe's wrister from the top of the slot.

The loss was the first in regulation since December 1 for Kolzig, who was denied his 200th career win.

Sundin sealed the victory, firing the puck into an empty net with 30 seconds remaining to tie Mogilny for the team lead in goals with 20.

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