The woes continued for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.
James van Riemsdyk scored his fifth and sixth goals of the season, and Ben Scrivens made 24 saves as the Toronto Maple Leafs handed the Capitals a 3-2 loss at Verizon Center.
Korbinian Holzer also scored for Toronto, which improved to 4-1 on the road this season and snapped a two-game skid. The Maple Leafs are 1-4 on home ice.
"We've been talking about a couple of those things, getting in on the forecheck, making it hard on their defenseman and getting to the net," van Riemsdyk said. "I got some lucky bounces and I was able to put them in."
Marcus Johansson and Mike Ribeiro scored power-play goals for the Capitals, who have lost eight of 10 to start the season under new coach Adam Oates and sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. Two-time League MVP Alex Ovechkin had an assist Tuesday night to give him five points (two goals, three assists) thus far.
Michal Neuvirth made 18 saves for Washington, which fell to 2-7-1. The Capitals got off to 1-8-1 starts in each of their first two seasons in the National Hockey League (1974-75). They'll need to turn things around in a hurry if they plan on qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"It's part of the job, and we have to figure out ways to get the guys to understand that they're doing a lot of good things and hopefully it will turn our way," Oates said.
Neuvirth allowed Holzer to go five-hole with a slap shot from near the blue line midway through the second period, giving the Maple Leafs a 3-1 lead and the German defenseman his first NHL goal in his fifth game.
"I knew someone had tipped [the puck], I just wasn't sure if it was one of our guys or one of their guys but everybody told me 'It was yours.' It was a special feeling," Holzer said. "[Defenseman Mark Fraser] made a great play on the blue line, out-winning the guy and passed it back to me and I just shot it at the net, and luckily good things happen."
The Capitals were strong early in the first period, giving Scrivens all he could handle on a power play that included a save on a blast by Ovechkin from the left circle. But shortly after the penalty was killed, a mistake at the other end gave the Maple Leafs the first goal of the game.
Neuvirth went behind the net to play the puck and left it for defenseman Tom Poti. Van Riemsdyk swooped in between the two, took the puck and put it in on a wraparound before Neuvirth had any chance to get back in position.
"At some point you can't have those breakdowns," Oates said. "The way we played (Sunday in a 6-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins), I thought for sure we would have a good effort tonight, and we did have the effort. It just kind of deflates you when you make a mistake early in the game. You're looking for a good start, and it kind of takes the wind out of your sails."
Van Riemsdyk put in a second-chance rebound less than 3 minutes later to give the Maple Leafs a two-goal lead.
It took a mad scramble in front of the net on a power play for the Capitals to get one past Scrivens. Tomas Kundratek, getting his first NHL point, slid a pass to Johansson, who was stationed by the crease to knock in his first goal of the season.
After Holzer gave the Maple Leafs a two-goal lead, the Capitals pulled within one again on Ribeiro's power-play goal with 13:13 to play.
Scrivens, getting the call over James Reimer as the Maple Leafs played the second night of a back-to-back, stopped another drive from Ribeiro a few minutes later and raised his arm to stop a shot from Poti late in the period as Toronto held on for the win.
"We have got to find a way to win. That's all that matters," Johansson said. "How we do it, doesn't really matter."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.