10/16 23:51 CDT Carlson leads Caps to first home win, 4-3 over Maple Leafs
Carlson leads Caps to first home win, 4-3 over Maple Leafs
By IAN QUILLEN
WASHINGTON (AP) --- Once again, the Washington Capitals have a player near the
top of the NHL in scoring. Just not the one you might expect.
John Carlson had a goal and two assists, giving the defenseman 14 points, and
the Capitals beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 Wednesday night for their first
home win of the season.
"Just getting lucky I think," said Carlson, on pace to double his career high
of 70 points from a season ago. "Guys are making some good plays to me, and the
guys I'm passing to are scoring right now."
Capitals teammate Alex Ovechkin, a three-time MVP who has paced the league in
both points (2007-08) and goals (eight times) during his illustrious career,
garners much of the attention on offense in Washington. But it's been Carlson
at the forefront early this season. His 11 assists have come while the club
awaits the return of Michael Kempny from offseason hamstring surgery.
"He's playing really well, and that's something that we talked about this
summer with the departure of some other guys," coach Todd Reirden said. "He's
been a big reason why we've been able to get through this time without Kempny."
Nicklas Backstrom added a goal and an assist, and Jakub Vrana and Evgeny
Kuznetsov also scored for Washington, which lost its first three home games for
the first time since October 1983. Two of those defeats came in overtime.
Rookie goaltender Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves in his first home start to earn
his third career win after going down 2-0 early. His last stop came as
Washington killed off Carl Hagelin's third-period penalty for hooking.
"It was a really good game for a young goaltender, because things probably
didn't go exactly how he wanted in the first, and he made an adjustment,"
Reirden said. "He completely settled down and let pucks begin to start to hit
Kasperi Kapanen scored short-handed and assisted on Ilya Mikheyev's goal as
Toronto grabbed the first-period lead. John Tavares scored late in the third to
cut the deficit to 4-3.
Michael Hutchinson stopped 28 shots in his second start for the Maple Leafs,
who lost on the road for the first time this season. Toronto has given up 10
goals in two games played as the second of a back-to-back set.
"The bottom line is we've got to do a better job of keeping it out of our net,"
coach Mike Babcock said. "It's one thing if they've made a play that's
unbelievable. But if you're not standing next to your guy, that's on you."
Toronto still led after the first intermission, but that turned into a 4-2
deficit during a 68-second stretch of the second period.
First, Kuznetsov took Carlson's pass on the break, cut in from the left and
wrapped a backhand around Hutchinson's left pad with 14:53 left in the period.
Just 11 seconds following the restart, Backstrom's one-timer off T.J. Oshie's
feed beat Hutchinson to give Washington the lead.
Within 30 seconds of that, Nicholas Shore and Codi Ceci both took minor
penalties to give the Capitals a 5-on-3. And with 13:35 remaining in the
period, Carlson scored off Ovechkin's feed for Washington's seventh power-play
goal of the season.
"When other teams have gifted offensive players, they're going to have a push
at some point in the game," Hutchinson said. "It's just unfortunate they were
able to bury their chances on their push."
NOTES: The Capitals lost D Jonas Siegenthaler (left shoulder) and RW Richard
Panik (upper body) to injury following the second period. They will be
evaluated Thursday. ... The WNBA champion Washington Mystics were on hand.
League MVP Elena Delle Donne dropped the ceremonial first puck prior to the
game, and Mystics forward Aerial Powers rode on a Zamboni while toting the
championship trophy during the first intermission. ... Kapanen's short-handed
goal was the first scored by the Maple Leafs and first allowed by the Capitals
this season. ... After scoring five goals in Toronto's first three games,
Auston Matthews has gone without a point in three of his last five. He has
seven goals overall.
Maple Leafs: Host the Boston Bruins on Saturday.
Capitals: Host the New York Rangers on Friday.
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