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Leafs Struggling To Find Their Offence

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Recap | Box | Pics | : Pre | Game In Six | Post | Wilson | Mitchell | Finger | More reaction

Forget Alexander Ovechkin.

The Maple Leafs learned to their chagrin Saturday that you can only contain Karl Alzner and Milan Jurcina for so long.

Those two support players broke through for the Capitals who beat the Maple Leafs 2-1, Saturday at Air Canada Centre.

The Leafs remain stuck on three wins over their last 10 games and are lugging around a three-game losing streak in which they have scored only six goals.

They also spent most of the night without prized rookie Luke Schenn after he was checked by Overchkin. Schenn left the game after two second period shifts. The Leafs are calling it a lower body injury.

“We’re looking at a minimum of two weeks right now,” said Leafs coach Ron Wilson.

“Beyond that we have to wait until tomorrow just to see. It’s not anything really major. We’ll probably have to call a defenceman up.”

The Leafs also lost Niklas Hagman early in the game. He was kneed in the head and will be re-evaluated Sunday at practice.

Coming off a three-game Western road trip and playing their third game in four nights, the Leafs did not have enough to overcome a Washington team playing without standout defenceman Mike Green, top six defenceman Tom Poti, veteran forward Sergei Fedorov and sniper Alexander Semin. The Caps outshot the Leafs 30-20.

The Leafs practiced in Phoenix on Friday, flew home and only had a day to acclimatize themselves before they had to hit the ice,

“I don’t see the travel as really a factor,” said Leafs defenceman Jeff Finger. “I know when I played in the West (with the Colorado Avalanche), things were a lot worse.”

Wilson, however, saw a connection between the travel and the outcome.

“After three days out of your zone, you can be a little groggy in your mind and that showed tonight. In moving the puck out of our zone, our defence was a bit slow.”

After a scoreless first period, Ian White put a diagonal pass through the defensive zone instead of up the boards. Alzner’s long screen shot eluded Toronto goalie Vesa Toskala. It was Alzner’s first career goal.

The Caps seemed to make it 2-0 midway through the second period but replays showed Washington centre Brooks Laich kicked the puck into the net. It stayed 1-0 through two periods.

Frustrated that he was not awarded a penalty on a second-period takedown, Ovechkin took two consecutive penalties early in the third. Nik Antropov slid the puck past Washington goalie Brent Johnson for a power play goal and his 10th marker of the season on the second man advantage.

The Caps reclaimed the lead exactly one minute later when Jurcina’s one-timer from the blue line beat a heavily-screened Toskala. It was his second goal of the year and 13th in a career that has spanned 223 games or roughly three seasons.

“The first goal, I didn’t see it until it was too late,” Toskala said. “The second shot I didn’t see at all. It’s hard to stop what you don’t see.”

The Maple Leafs actually did a good job on Ovechkin who nonetheless garnered both the game high for shots with seven and hits with six.

“We knew Ovechkin was the most dangerous player on the ice,” said Antropov. “We kept him off the scoresheet. We had a lot of effort out there tonight.”

The Leafs, now 9-12-6, host the New York Islanders on Monday.

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