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Alex Ovechkin put the Caps on the board early with his 21st of the season. He blasted a one-timer from Green past Vesa Toskala 120 seconds into this contest after the Toronto goaltender afforded Washington a power play by covering up the puck in the right faceoff circle.

Backstrom made it 2-0 a little more than three minutes later. He controlled the puck in the left circle before dropping it off to Ovechkin and maneuvering toward the right post. Ovechkin fired a hard pass through a mass of bodies to him, and Backstrom tapped it into the net before Toskala could react.

This was the second suspect performance against one of the league’s bottom feeders in as many nights. Washington needed overtime to best the NHL’s worst team, the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-3 at Verizon Center, but the Caps weren’t so fortunate against the league’s second-worst club in their barn.

“We know teams are going to give us their best effort because we’ve been on top of the standings,” Laich said. “They look at it as a challenge. … They outworked us tonight, and [if] we don’t outwork teams - regardless of our skill level - we don’t win.”