TORONTO - The Alexander Ovechkin scoring express did not slow down to honour the return of Cliff Fletcher as Toronto Maple Leafs GM.
Ovechkin netted his 39th goal of the season in Washington's 3-2 loss to Toronto, putting him two ahead of fellow Russian Ilya Kovalchuk for the league-scoring lead. But that was little consolation to the Capitals superstar, whose team had its four-game win streak snapped.
"I think (Vesa) Toskala played an unbelievable game today," a sombre Ovechkin said of the Maple Leafs goaltender, who stopped 30 of 32 shots in the first game of a consecutive night home-and-home series between the two teams.
"He made great (saves) to stop our chances. He won the game tonight."
With his 64th point of the year, Ovechkin also moved out of a three-way tie and into sole possession of second place in the NHL points race.
Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was happy to see his best player continue to contribute on the scoresheet, but cautioned that other team members need to chip in with some offence as well.
"We're going to have to rely on somebody else to start scoring," Boudreau said. "He's not going to score every night. He's going to have off nights. I hope it isn't (Thursday in the rematch against Toronto), but he's going to have off nights, and somebody else on the team has to pick it up for him."
Boudreau, 16-8-4 with Washington after taking over from former coach Glen Hanlon on Nov. 22, was encouraged to see the Capitals claw back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits at the Air Canada Centre, and wasn't about to ream out his players after the game.
"We came back for the first time in a long time when we were down in the third period," Boudreau said.
"To give that (winning goal) up, it hurts, but you have to let it go. The great thing is, we play (the Maple Leafs) tomorrow, and hopefully through video, we can learn from our mistakes and it won't happen (again)."
It was a homecoming of sorts for Boudreau, a Toronto native and player in the Maple Leafs organization during the 1980's. However, his previous allegiances fell away once the game began.
"Once the puck dropped, it was like any other game I wanted to win," he said. "We had four (wins) in a row, and our goal was to make it six (straight wins) before the all-star game. I didn't reflect on anything personal, quite frankly."