Capitals Lose Lead, Fall To Maple Leafs, 5-4, In Shootout

The Capitals had a 4-1 lead entering the third period thanks to two goals from Matthieu Perreault, but it evidently wasn't enough. Mikhail Grabovski led the comeback and scored the only shootout goal as the Leafs stole the victory.

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Maple Leafs Vs. Capitals: Mikhail Grabovski Leads Comeback Victory For Toronto

The game looked out of reach for the Maple Leafs, but three third period goals and a dominant shootout performance from Jonas Gustavsson earned Toronto a victory. And the Capitals have now lost back-to-back games at home for the first time all season. It was the Leafs' second shootout victory in two nights.

Mikhail Grabovski started the comeback, and would ultimately end it as well. Grabovski made the young defensive pairing of Karl Alzner and John Carlson look bad for the second time tonight, skating in and beating Michal Neuvirth. With under three miniutes remaining, Tim Brent tipped in a shot from Tomas Kaberle to make it a one-goal game. And then, with under two minutes remaining in regulation and Gustavsson on the bench in favor of an extra skater, Toronto made Washington pay for its lackluster third period performance. Grabovski found Clarke MacArthur on the doorstep and the game was tied and heading for overtime. 

After a scoreless overtime period, the Capitals couldn't find the net in the shootout. Their best chance came most obviously from the stick of Matthieu Perreault. The young forward looked to have Gustavsson beat, but the goaltender made a stick save at the last moment just as it appeared that the puck was about to cross the line.

It was Grabovski of the Maple Leafs though who did what the Capitals couldn't. He scored an impressive shootout goal, doing a complete 180 degree spin in front of the crease and using a backhand shot to beat Neuvirth for the lone goal.

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Maple Leafs Vs. Capitals: Matthieu Perreault, Alex Ovechkin Extend Lead To 4-1

Someone must have told Matthieu Perreault that the Capitals are looking for guys that can play. He's doing work tonight, and it's paying off.

A spot opened up in Washington's lineup when Tomas Fleischmann was traded to the Colorado Avalanche. But if Perreault keeps playing the way he is tonight, that spot might not remain open for long. Perreault scored his second goal of the night in the second period on a shot that froze Jonas Gustavsson in net. Brooks Laich created the play, while Alexander Semin held his own in front of the net to help screen the goaltender. The youngster Perreault definitely does not look out of place on Washington's second line.

Then, with 13:50 gone in the period, following a heavyweight fight between D.J. King and Colton Orr, Alex Ovechkin extended the Capitals' lead with a beautiful wrist shot. Gustavsson didn't stand a chance as Ovechkin placed the puck perfectly in the far upper corner. With a kiss of the glove and a salute to King as he sat in the box, the Capitals had a three-goal lead.

They've got just 20 minutes left to make sure it stands.

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Maple Leafs Vs. Capitals: Matthieu Perreault, Mike Knuble Give Washington 2-1 Lead

Bruce Boudreau went young with his lineup tonight, and it's worked to varying degrees of success so far.

Just under three minutes into the game, Matthieu Perreault scored his first goal of the season while deflecting a Tom Poti shot from the blue line. Poti's shot did not come with a lot of force, but the Hershey Bears standout got himself in good position in front of the net to deflect the puck down and between the legs of Jonas Gustavsson to give the Capitals an early 1-0 lead. This is Perreault's fourth NHL game of the season, and the goal was his first since March 30 according to Scott Chamberlain of TDB.com.

The Maple Leafs responded though, turning a Washington mistake into their first goal of the night. On a Toronto power play, the young defensive pairing of John Carlson and Karl Alzner had trouble forcing the puck out of the zone. An attempted clearance from Alzner was intercepted by Nikolai Kulemin, who found Clarke MacArthur. The winger beat Carlson, and then beat Michal Neuvirth.

Later in the period though, with the Capitals on a power play, it was veteran Mike Knuble that stepped up. He found himself alone in front of the goal, but was stopped on his first attempt. The rebound deflected off Toronto defenseman Mike Komisarek and fell right back to Knuble, who was able to convert the opportunity on his second try.

With goals from both Perreault and Knuble, the Capitals' youngest and oldest forwards have now tallied.

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Maple Leafs: Vs. Capitals: Tyler Sloan Heads To IR As Lineups Released

Several familiar names are missing from Washington's lineup tonight. Following only their second home regulation loss of the season, the Capitals and Bruce Boudreau have elected to mix things up.

Eric Fehr, David Steckel, John Erskine and Tyler Sloan were all missing from the pre-game skate, and were all left off the lineup. According to Katie Carrera of the Washington Post, Sloan has now been placed on injured reserve.

Sloan, who has been bothered by a hip-flexor and groin strain at various times this season, played on Saturday against Atlanta and would be eligible to return to the lineup beginning on Dec. 12 against New York.

With so many veterans missing, the Capitals will turn to several young players to make an impact. Matthew Perreault has been called up from the Hershey Bears and will take a spot on the second line as the Capitals seek a replacement for Tomas Fleischmann. Tonight's game will also give us our first chance to see the defensive pairing of Tom Poti and newcomer Scott Hannan.

The complete lineup is as follows:

Forwards
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble
Laich-Perreault-Semin
Chimera-Johansson-Bradley
King-Gordon-Hendricks

Defensemen
Schultz-Green
Alzner-Carlson
Poti-Hannan

Goal
Neuvirth
Varlamov

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Maple Leafs Vs. Capitals: Caps Hope To Put Rare Regulation Home Loss Behind Them Against Reeling Leafs

The Washington Capitals' 3-1 regulation loss to the Atlanta Thrashers Saturday was their second 60-minute loss of the season and first in over a month. The Caps will attempt to move forward Monday at the still-friendly confines of Verizon Center against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Caps had a hard time with the Leafs in their only other meeting this season, a 5-4 win November 3. The Capitals would blow a 3-1 lead in the third period and even trail 4-3 before tying the game and winning in a shootout. Since that game, the Leafs have won four of their following thirteen games.

Michal Neuvirth left the ice first during Monday's morning skate and should get the start against Toronto after Semyon Varlamov got the nod in Saturday's game. Neuvirth's last start came Thursday against the Dallas Stars in a 2-1 loss.

The other news making the rounds about tonight's game is Mathieu Perreault's promotion from AHL Hershey and the undisclosed player that head coach Bruce Boudreau said will be placed on the injured reserve list. The only clue that Boudreau gave the media during Monday's morning skate was that the player in question will not be Alex Semin, who has suffered from an undisclosed injury all season.

Meanwhile, Toronto will look to right a sinking ship; the Leafs started the season 4-0-0 but have won only five times since October 26. Toronto is also 0-7-1 in their last eight road games. Jonas Gustavsson should get the start in net. Gustavsson made 26 saves in his other start against Washington this season.

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