John Carlson's high-powered season continues as Capitals top Leafs
Defenceman scores goal, adds 2 assists in Washington victory
For a brief period Wednesday, the Washington Capitals once again had a player leading the league in scoring. It just wasn't who you'd expect.
John Carlson had a goal and two assists, giving the defenceman 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."
Carlson had moved ahead of Edmonton forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. But McDavid had five points and Draisaitl had three in a resounding win over the Philadelphia Flyers and both Oilers leapfrogged Carlson.
WATCH | Caps edge Leafs with 2nd period goal-fest:
Capitals teammate Alex Ovechkin, a three-time MVP who has paced the league in points (2007-08) and goals (eight times) during his illustrious career, garners much of the attention on offence in Washington. But it's been Carlson at the forefront early this season. His 11 assists were also tops in the NHL among defencemen, and they've come while the club awaits the return of Michael Kempny from off-season 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 Samsonov settles in net
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 him."
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."
Leafs fall apart in 2nd period
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."