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Capitals defeat Maple Leafs for fifth win in row

by Mike Brophy /

TORONTO -- The Washington Capitals won their fifth straight game, 4-2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Saturday.

The Capitals (17-5-1) scored three times in the second period. Jason Chimera had a goal and an assist.

"He deserves it," Washington captain Alex Ovechkin said of Chimera. "He is working hard every day. He doesn't try to get cute; he knows what he is capable of doing and his experience is coming out. He's our secret weapon almost. I didn't think we had a very good first period, but his goal gave us a bit of a chance to reload."

Chimera has seven goals and 14 points in 23 games, with four points in his past two.

"I have had a chance to play on the power play a bit lately and also to get the chance to play with [Evgeny Kuznetsov], who has some pretty magic hands, and that has been huge for me," Chimera said. "It's nice any time you can score and help the team out. Any time you see a third- or fourth-line guy score, usually the team wins. You want to keep that going. You need depth scoring going forward because you know Ovi and [T.J.] Oshie aren't going to score every night."

The Maple Leafs (7-11-5) have lost three in a row. Goalie Jonathan Bernier struggled and is 0-8-1; he played in place of injured James Reimer.

"You've got to keep it out of our net," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "We have been going through this since the start of the year. I think there has been a lot of talking going on. The bottom line is just get to work, work hard every day, listen to the goalie coach, and you try to find your game."

Babcock said he considered replacing Bernier with Garret Sparks, who was called up from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League earlier Saturday.

"I just felt the best thing to do was [keep Bernier in the game]," Babcock said. "Most big decisions I make I try to take the emotion out of it totally. You are way less emotional after you sleep on something. You can't give up four [goals] in the National Hockey League and win. It's just impossible."

The Maple Leafs outshot the Capitals 16-4 in the first period, but each team scored once.

Bernier, making his first start since Nov. 15, made his first save of the game 2:30 in off a shot by Kuznetsov from the slot, but Bernier wasn't as fortunate on the second. Chimera broke into the Toronto zone on the left wing and took a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle that handcuffed the Maple Leafs goalie. Chimera's seventh goal of the season was unassisted at 3:43.

The Maple Leafs tied it 1-1 at 6:17 when Dion Phaneuf slipped in low in the Washington zone and passed the puck to the front of the net. Peter Holland was in the high slot and his low shot went past goalie Braden Holtby for his fourth goal of the season.

Tom Wilson gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead at 4:06 of the second period. Bernier stopped a dump in and the puck was lying 5 feet in front of the net. A Maple Leafs defenseman overskated the puck and Wilson was there to grab it and score his first goal of the season, his first in 36 games dating to last season.

Nine seconds after Washington defenseman John Carlson was penalized for interference, the Maple Leafs power play tied the score 2-2. Phaneuf's slap shot from the point was tipped past Holtby by Leo Komarov. It was his eighth goal of the season, tying his single-season NHL high set last season.

The Capitals made it 3-2 on their power play. Ovechkin's slap shot hit Toronto defenseman Roman Polak and deflected off Washington forward Marcus Johansson past Bernier at 11:08, 22 seconds after Nazem Kadri was sent off for high-sticking.

The Capitals made it 4-2 at 12:24 with another power-play goal. Justin Williams snapped a 20-foot shot past Bernier with Phaneuf off for interference. The goal came on the Capitals' 13th shot of the game.

The Maple Leafs had two chances to pull within a goal, but James van Riemsdyk and Holland hit the post on back-to-back shots.

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