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Auston Matthews gets game-winner for Maple Leafs

Rookie forward scores ninth of season to help defeat Capitals

by Joe Yerdon / NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- Auston Matthews had the game-winning goal 25 seconds into the third period and Mitchell Marner had two assists and to help the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-2 win against the Washington Capitals at Air Canada Centre on Saturday.

Matthews made it 3-0 with his ninth goal of the season when he put a rebound of a Matt Hunwick shot past Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (33 saves). Matthews has three goals in the past two games and five points in the past four.

"I think we did a good job of coming out the right way," Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk said. "I think we knew the situation they were in playing their third game in four nights on a back-to-back. We wanted to make sure to be hard on them, put pucks in deep, and come full ice to earn their chances because we know they are a strong team and if you give them chances, they're going to bury them."

 

WATCH: All Capitals vs. Maple Leafs highlights

 

Toronto (9-8-4) won for the first time in four games.

Marner's two assists tied him with Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine for the NHL lead in rookie scoring with 18 points.

Matt Martin gave the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead 2:35 into the first period with his second goal in two games. Martin received a pass from Marner and had a breakaway from the Capitals blue line against Holtby and scored on wrist shot.

Van Riemsdyk's ninth goal of the season came on the power play 3:28 into the second period when he put a rebound of a Nikita Soshnikov shot past Holtby.

"I think after New Jersey [a 5-4 shootout loss on Wednesday], giving up that [3-0] lead, we all wanted to come in here and make sure that we played hard and make sure that kept the lead all game," Marner said.

Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson scored for the Capitals (13-6-2).

Video: WSH@TOR: Kadri uses slick moves, buries one five-hole

Backstrom made it 3-1 at 9:30 of the third period when he put a loose puck past goalie Frederik Andersen (33 saves) for his fifth goal in the past seven games. But Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri scored on a backhand through Holtby's five-hole 2:20 later for his ninth goal of the season.

Backstrom then set up Johansson for his ninth goal that made it 4-2 with 3:16 left.

"Obviously we didn't give up, we tried to bounce back in the game, but the first goal they scored right away in the third kind of stopped us a little bit," Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. "They're a young team and (if) you don't get one right away, it's going to be a tight game and maybe tie it in the third and win the game."

Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen left the game early in the third period and did not return. Washington coach Barry Trotz said he would be evaluated further on Sunday.

Maple Leafs forward William Nylander did not play because of an upper-body injury. He was replaced by Peter Holland. Toronto coach Mike Babcock said he's day-to-day.

Video: WSH@TOR: Johansson floats a goal over Andersen

 

Goal of the game

Martin's goal in the first period showed equal amounts of skill on his shot that beat Holtby, as well as the lead pass from Marner.

Video: WSH@TOR: Martin fires breakaway chance past Holtby

 

Save of the game

With 12:45 left, Capitals defenseman John Carlson took a shot on a loose puck which center Lars Eller tipped. Andersen slid across the crease and caught the puck in his glove.

Video: WSH@TOR: Andersen reaches for amazing glove stop

 

Highlight of the game

Matthews' goal in the third period demonstrated the Maple Leafs' ability to control the play.

Video: WSH@TOR: Matthews hammers in a rebound to extend lead

 

Unsung moment of the game

With a 2-0 lead in the second period, the Maple Leafs killed penalties against forwards Zach Hyman and Leo Komarov that resulted in 24 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time for the Capitals. Washington was unable to get a shot on goal during the 5-on-3 and went 0-for-4 on the power play.

 

They said it

"We didn't look like the Washington Capitals out there at all. Completely embarrassed by a young team. That's not acceptable in our culture here. We're going to have to be better, every one of us, that was embarrassing." -- Capitals goalie Braden Holtby

 

Video: WSH@TOR: Holtby slides to take one away from Bozak

 

"Marner's just getting his feet wet now and there's lots of room for him to grow, but his upside and potential is huge, and you definitely see similar tendencies [to Patrick Kane] with that little bit of poise and that ability to hold the puck the extra second to make that great play. He's a guy that loves the game and he works really hard at it so the sky's the limit for him." -- Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk

 

Video: WSH@TOR: van Riemsdyk nets rebound for PPG

 

Need to know

The Maple Leafs are 8-0-3 when Marner gets a point. … Martin hadn't scored in consecutive games since Nov. 21 and 22, 2014, as a member of the New York Islanders against the Pittsburgh Penguins. ... Toronto is 8-3-0 at Air Canada Centre.

 

What's next

Capitals: Host the New York Islanders on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, MSG+, NHL.TV)

Maple Leafs: At the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SNW, TSN4, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Maple Leafs bag four goals in win over Capitals

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