Tuesday, April 5, 2011 9:57 p.m.
By Kellie Cowan
CAPITALS PAGE CAPITALS VIDEO
The Washington Capitals defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 Tuesday night in Toronto thanks to a fourth-round shootout goal -the only goal scored in the night's skills competition- by Mike Knuble.
With the win, the Capitals clinched the Southeast Division title, their fourth in as many years, and moved two points ahead of the Flyers to claim first place in the Eastern Conference. "We want to be in first everywhere, so it's nice," said Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin.
Though they would leave the ice with a point, Buffalo's win over Tampa Bay in the same evening eliminated the Leafs' playoff hopes. Toronto, a long-shot to make the postseason, battled hard in their last 17 games, posting a 10-5-2 record.
"It was unfortunate we put ourselves in the predicament we did where we had to run the table," Leafs goalie James Reimer said. "We played our hearts out, we did everything we could. We've fallen short right now but I'm proud of the way we battled for the last couple months, especially today too."
Ovechkin tied the game at one a piece by ripping a slap shot past Reimer during a five-on-three power play in the first period to net his 300th career goal.
"It feels good," Ovechkin said. "When you score 300 goals in six years, it's a big accomplishment. I play for a great team."
Reimer would be nicked again in the second when a John Erskine slap shot deflected off his own defenseman, Luke Schenn, to find the back of his net. Recently named NHL Rookie of the Month for March, Reimer would stop an impressive 39 of the 41 shots he faced.
Washington's fourth-ranked penalty killing unit gave up a wrist shot from Nikolai Kulemin early in the first period to put the Leafs on board first. Joffrey Lupul put Toronto ahead again just 95 seconds into the second period. Neuvirth would stop 19 of Toronto's 21 shots.
After a scoreless third period and subsequent overtime, the tilt was sent into a shootout where skater after skater failed to put their team on board. In the sudden-death fourth round, Mike Knuble sent a puck high over Reimer's glove to win it for the Capitals.
Washington has now won 15 of their last 18 games, their last four have all required overtime. They will face Florida Wednesday night in their last home game of the season before ending the regular season in the Panthers' barn Saturday night.