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Curtis Joseph robs Alex Ovechkin in shootout as Maple Leafs beat Capitals 3-2

NHL.com @NHL

TORONTO - The theatrics didn't belong to Alex Ovechkin on this night.

Curtis Joseph was brought in cold off the Toronto Maple Leafs' bench late in Tuesday's game and shut down the Washington Capitals to help his team to a 3-2 shootout victory.

Even though Ovechkin scored his league-leading 51st goal of the season, it was the aging Leafs backup that stole the show. Joseph was brought into the game with 56 seconds to play in the third period - after Martin Gerber was tossed for pushing referee Mike Leggo and shooting a puck in his direction following Washington's controversial tying goal - and didn't allow anything to get by him.

Joseph's finest moment came when he robbed Ovechkin on Washington's final shootout opportunity.

Phil Oreskovic and Pavel Kubina scored in regulation for Toronto (31-30-13).

Ovechkin and Brooks Laich replied for the Capitals (45-23-7).

A relatively tame game produced a pretty wild finish.

Kubina appeared to have set the Maple Leafs up for a victory when he scored a power-play goal at 17:52 of the third period, but Laich tied it 2-2 with 56.1 seconds left. The Capitals forward stuffed the puck under Gerber, prompting the angry Toronto goalie to protest the goal by skating towards Leggo.

He bumped the referee and shot the puck in his direction - a violation of rule 41, which carries an automatic suspension of at least three games.

The Leafs were forced to insert Joseph and the veteran promptly stopped a late chance by Ovechkin, setting up overtime.

That was only the beginning. Joseph got a standing ovation from the sellout crowd as he turned away eight more shots in the extra session and all three shootout attempts.

Jeff Hamilton scored on Toronto's first shootout attempt to seal the win.

The focus started on Ovechkin but ended with Joseph.

Ovechkin once again demonstrated his sense of humour prior to the game, wearing a "Coach's Corner" t-shirt while kicking a soccer ball with teammates. It had the word "respect" written across the back.

The celebration after his 51st goal of the season later in the night won't draw the same kind of attention No. 50 did - from Don Cherry or anyone else. Ovechkin simply kissed his glove and pointed to the sky after roaring around defenceman Luke Schenn and sliding the puck around Gerber with 20 seconds to play in the second period.

The play picked up in the second period after a dull opening 20 minutes. The teams started to trade some chances and ended up combining for 29 shots in the middle frame.

Oreskovic got the first goal and point of his NHL career on a strange play at 9:04. The hulking defenceman had his point shot bounce off at least one Capitals player before it got behind goalie Jose Theodore.

The celebration was pretty muted for a guy who only has two goals in 116 career AHL games - he simply raised both arms in the air.

Ovechkin also kept himself in check when he tied the score 1-1 with 20 seconds to play in the period.

It was the 12th goal he's scored in 13 career games against the Leafs.

Notes: A video tribute was played for former Leaf Walt Poddubny, who died over the weekend at age 49 ... Ray Bourque's son Chris played his 12th career NHL game for Washington ... Former Leafs goalie Peter Ing watched from the stands ... Linesman Pierre Champoux took a hard shot off the leg in the first period but stayed in the game ... Announced attendance was 19,362.

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