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Maple Leafs 3, Capitals 0 @NHL

TORONTO (AP) -The Toronto Maple Leafs are starting to gain confidence.

Andrew Raycroft made 24 saves for his second shutout of the season and Darcy Tucker and Yanic Perreault each scored their 20th goals to lift the Maple Leafs to a 3-0 victory over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.

Alexei Ponikarovsky also scored for the Maple Leafs, who moved into an eighth-place tie with Carolina in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

"We'll keep working hard and putting pucks to the net," Raycroft said. "We're playing well right now.

"We just need to continue to play solid defence and stay in these games. We're starting to win the close games now. We all have a lot of confidence in the tight ones."

Tucker opened the scoring at 3:08 of the second against AHL callup Frederic Cassivi, who hadn't posted an NHL victory since February 2003. Toronto failed to score during a two-man advantage for 80 seconds from the start of the period, but Tucker scored with the teams at even strength.

Cassivi stopped John Pohl's shot and the puck caromed in off Tucker's right arm. It was his first goal since Dec. 16 - just before Tucker broke his left foot. Tuesday marked his second game back in the lineup.

"I haven't been feeling any pressure to score," Tucker said. "Maybe on the power play, but coming back into the lineup, I don't think anybody expected me to come back and score like I was before I got hurt, but I've got to get back to that.

"The only way to do that is to work hard and try to contribute in any aspect I can."

Perreault netted his first since joining the Leafs for the third time. Chad Kilger flipped the puck off the boards to get it behind defenseman Milan Jurcina. Perreault raced in to get it and had an open alley to Cassivi. Perreault swooped across the front of the crease, pulled the puck to his backhand and neatly tucked it into the open side of the net at 14:39.

"It's always nice to get one at the (Air Canada Centre)," he said. "Every game is a big game right now and we played a pretty solid game, and we have to keep that going for the rest of the week."

Ponikarovsky got his 18th at 2:47 of the third by deflecting in Nik Antropov's slap shot.

Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin were scoring threats most times they were on the ice with Kris Beech, but the Leafs had nothing to worry about beyond that one line.

"We played well (in the) first period," he offered. "We had great chances to score, but we couldn't."

The Capitals are giving their young players a chance to show what they can do as their losing season winds down.

"We're playing some young kids, and we've improved defensively but, as you could see, we're challenged offensively," Washington coach Glen Hanlon said. "We've got to at least generate something on the power play, and that didn't happen either.

"Give (the Leafs) credit. They did well on the penalty kill, and scored some goals when they needed to. They were patient. You can see a change in how they played from the start of the year. It's been successful for them, and now they're right where they need to be to be in the playoffs."

Notes: Toronto had a 31-24 shots advantage. ... Both teams went 0-for-5 on power plays. ... Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin remained two goals shy of Darryl Sittler's club-record 389. ... D Pavel Kubina, who had missed the five previous games with a broken finger, was back in the Leafs lineup. ... Washington was without LW Matt Pettinger, who broke his right thumb Thursday.

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