Washington Capitals\' Brian Pothier (2) works the puck in front of Toronto Maple Leafs\' Matt Stajan (14) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
Alexander Semin had a goal and two assists, and Alexandre Giroux scored his first NHL goal to help the Washington Capitals snap a nine-game skid with a 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night.
The Capitals, winless since beating New Jersey on Feb. 24, also snapped a seven-game home losing streak. Washington, weakened by late-season trades and a flurry of injuries, had lost 14 of 15
"It's a fine line between winning and losing," said Washington goalie Olaf Kolzig, who had 34 saves. "We had three shootout games. It was little things. It's an awful stretch to go through."
Kolzig finished with 34 saves, and Boyd Gordon, Kris Beech and Tomas Fleischmann also scored for the Capitals.
Giroux gave Washington an early lead thanks to a strange bounce that came right to him skating near the crease. Semin scored when the rebound of his own shot bounced right back to his stick in front. Tomas Fleischmann got the final goal when the Caps rushed an extra skater on during a delayed penalty call.
"It was good to start off with some puck luck and get a good break," Washington coach Glen Hanlon said. "It was a great night."
It was definitely a memorable night for Giroux, who got his first two NHL points at the end of a long, strange day.
Washington called Giroux up from Hershey this morning and a limousine took him the on the approximately 47-mile trip from Worcester, Mass., to Boston, where he got the final flight out.
When arriving in Washington, a limousine took him to the game through a sleet/snow storm that struck the area Friday afternoon. Giroux didn't arrive at the Verizon Center until about 90 minutes before the 7:05 p.m. ET start.
He started quickly, giving Washington a 1-0 lead on an unusual goal 1:46 into the game.
Steve Eminger dumped the puck in from centre ice, and Toronto goalie Andrew Raycroft swung and missed when it bounced off the boards.
The puck trickled between his legs and right to Giroux, who tapped it into the empty net for his first NHL point. Giroux also added an assist.
"It was just a lucky goal," Giroux said. "Anyone could have made that goal. Maybe it was ugly, but I'll take it."
Semin made it 2-0 at 7:55 of the period when he scored on the rebound of his own shot.
Nikolai Antropov pulled the Maple Leafs to 2-1 when he redirected Mats Sundin's shot past Kolzig with 6:41 left in the second period.
But Gordon scored later in the period to give the Capitals a 3-1 lead, beating Raycroft after taking a pass from Semin in front. Semin also assisted on Beech's goal early in the third period.
"We've been slow out of the gate the last three, four games," Sundin said. "For some reason we're not on our toes at the start of the game."
Notes: The two teams split the four-game season series. ... The victory was Kolzig's first since Feb. 4. He missed 13 games with a knee injury before returning Thursday. ... Sundin needs one goal to tie Darryl Sittler for the franchise record for career goals (389). ... The Capitals announced that Brian Sutherby is day-to-day with a hand injury