The Toronto Maple Leafs scored three second-period goals in the span of a minute Friday night and cruised to a 7-1 victory over the skidding Capitals. The Maple Leafs led 2-1 before Bryan McCabe scored at 10:09 of the period with Toronto enjoying a two-man advantage. Jeff O'Neill scored another power-play goal 14 seconds later, and Hal Gill concluded the rapid-fire barrage against Capitals goaltender Brent Johnson at 11:09.
"We scored a key goal on the 5-on-3, and after that I think we controlled the game," Toronto defenceman Pavel Kubina said. "We scored those three goals in a minute, and that was it."
Darcy Tucker added his team-high 16th goal just over three minutes later for a 6-1 lead.
It's hard to imagine that the return of Mats Sundin will add substantial firepower to the Maple Leafs, who put on a dazzling display of offence from the outset, taking a 2-0 lead after just 2:44 elapsed.
Sundin, Toronto's team captain, has been sidelined since Nov. 6 with a torn elbow ligament. He is expected to return Saturday against Boston, but given the way Toronto peppered the net against the Capitals, there's probably no need to rush him back.
"There are enough players that I would expect to score that we should be able to survive," coach Paul Maurice said, "but at the end of the day we need him back in our lineup."
Kyle Wellwood, Mike Peca and Matt Stajan also scored for Toronto.
Andrew Raycroft had 22 saves for the Maple Leafs. He faced only 11 shots in the final two periods.
Alexander Ovechkin scored a power-play goal for the Capitals, who suffered their most lopsided loss of the season.
"We certainly didn't want to get embarrassed like that," coach Glen Hanlon said. "We had all kinds of opportunities to tie it up 2-2 and then we took a couple of penalties. After that, it was as if they scored on every opportunity."
Washington played without left-wing Donald Brashear and centre Brian Sutherby, both of whom were serving NHL-mandated suspensions stemming from Wednesday's melee against Atlanta. In addition, Alexander Semin sat out a third straight game with an upper body injury.
Toronto got off to a torrid start, scoring on its second and fifth shots to take a 2-0 lead. After Wellwood got his fifth goal with a blast from between the circles with 63 seconds gone, Peca beat Johnson on a breakaway after gaining possession of the puck in the Capitals' end.
Washington tested Raycroft with several good shots before Ovechkin finally broke through late in the period. It was his 14th goal of the season and sixth in five career games against Toronto.
The second period was dominated by the Maple Leafs, who scored on four of nine shots. With two Capitals in the penalty box, McCabe extended his career-high scoring streak to eight games with a wrister from the top of the right circle.
Seconds later, Johnson attempted to retrieve the puck behind the net and returned to the goal too late to stop a shot by O'Neill. Gill made it 5-1 with a blast from just inside the blue-line.
"I don't know what happened the second period," Ovechkin said. "We played terrible in the second period. The third period we played hard. We had chances to score, but the game was done in the second period."
Stajan put Toronto up 7-1 with a power-play goal in the third period.
Notes: For the first time this season, the Capitals have lost two straight in regulation. They fell 4-2 to Atlanta on Wednesday. ... McCabe has four goals and eight assists during his eight-game run.