- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2005

TORONTO — To hear some of those who witnessed last night’s Washington-Toronto game, the Capitals didn’t lose so much as they ran out of time.

The Maple Leafs got a measure of revenge for losing at MCI Center on Sunday night when they took advantage of Washington errors and earned a 6-4 victory at home, scoring six of the game’s eight goals over the final two periods.

More than two dozen pro scouts and a few general managers stayed in town after Monday’s Hall of Fame ceremonies and many felt if the game had lasted longer, the Caps might have caught Toronto.

Alex Ovechkin, who had dreamed since he was very young of playing in Toronto, put on a superb show in front of a packed Air Canada Centre, winning more than a few converts in his quest to be the NHL’s rookie of the year. He scored twice, once on a 4-on-4 situation when he and Dainius Zubrus dominated play in the Leafs’ end. It was the fifth two-goal game of his 15-game career.

But Washington took some poor penalties that allowed the Maple Leafs to overcome a 2-0 first period deficit and take command of the game from about the middle of the second period.

Ben Clymer and Matt Pettinger scored Washington’s other goals while Mats Sundin had the game-winner for the Leafs on a wrap-around play in which Toronto simply overwhelmed Washington.

But the night belonged to the 20-year-old Ovechkin, who was voted the first star of the game, a highly unusual circumstance in a city where the Leafs are more of an institution than the Redskins are in Washington.

“This is a special place for hockey,” Ovechkin said. “When I come here, to the NHL, my dream was to play in Toronto. Here, in this building where everybody was screaming and the place was full, I like that.”

He was smiling — as always — but the reality of the situation also came up.

“We win 2-0 and the game was ours,” he said, slightly fracturing the language. “We play very well in the first period but second period, we have too many penalties. The third period, well …”

The play where Ovechkin and Zubrus teamed up 15 minutes into the first period had the building buzzing for several minutes. It almost didn’t happen because Ovechkin was crowding Zubrus, not giving him room to operate.

“We were cycling down low and he was close so I told him to get away from me, try to go to the net,” Zubrus said. “They tried to get the puck out, he kept it in, he got it to me again and then went into the corner, spun around and was looking for me. He found a soft spot, I got it to him and his release is as fast as anybody in this league. It was a pretty good shot, that’s for sure.”

Despite the bad penalties, Washington had ample opportunity to get back into the game. In the second period alone the Caps had three 2-on-1 breaks but failed to convert. But it was hard trying to mount an attack when fresh players were unavailable because of having to kill too many penalties.

“I’m not sure how everyone can appreciate that when we got down a couple goals, even three with eight minutes left and we’re competing and the goal we scored was off a competitive forecheck,” coach Glen Hanlon said. “These young kids are awesome, it’s fun. Even in defeat. We watch as coaches and we feel great about our guys. We’re going to come in here one day and we’ll have our time.”

Notes — For the third game in a row Andrew Cassels, the veteran center the Caps acquired last summer, was a healthy scratch. In the same category was defenseman Mathieu Biron. … Zubrus (groin) and defenseman Jamie Heward (arm) made it back from injuries. Not so lucky was left wing Jeff Friesen (groin). The Caps didn’t have to deactivate anybody when Zubrus came off injured reserve because right wing Petr Sykora decided to return to the Czech Republic.

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