LANDOVER -- A pair of power-play goals midway through the third period broke a 2-2 tie, and the Toronto Maple Leafs went on to defeat the Washington Capitals, 5-2, before 14,753 at the Capital Centre yesterday.
Rob Ramage, at center point, took a pass from behind the net from Doug Shedden and fired a slap shot past Capitals goalie Don Beaupre at 11 minutes, 54 seconds of the third period to break the tie, and, 69 seconds later, Dave Ellett blasted a shot from the left point that Beaupre could not handle. Washington's Dale Hunter was in the penalty box for both goals.
Toronto scored on three of eight power-play opportunities.
"Our power play was really working well," said Shedden, formerly of the Baltimore Skipjacks. "Beaupre made a stop on a shot, but the puck rebounded right to me on our first goal. Beaupre was still down, and I just put it in. We moved the puck well and tried to put the puck on the net. That's the key to the power play -- get the puck on goal and look for the rebound.
"On Ramage's goal, I got the puck off the rear boards and saw that he was all alone near the blue line. I just gave him the puck, and he did the rest."
The Capitals are 0-4-1 in their past five games, and Toronto, with the worst record in the National Hockey League, is 4-0-1 in its past five road contests.
"That was our worst performance of the season," Washington coach Terry Murray said. "It was an embarrassment, and that goes for everyone on this team, not just one or two guys. No one showed up to play, except maybe our goaltender."
The Capitals had the best power play in the league a week ago, but were 0-for-8 yesterday and have not scored in their past 18 power-play attempts.
"We had a chance to win this game with our power play," Murray said, "but it was non-effective. We weren't moving the puck. We were standing around. We are letting the penalty-killing units have time to set up. We take our shots from the blue line or the top of the circles, but we don't have anyone in front of the cage. The goalie has a clear view of making the save, and that's what he did."
Shedden opened the scoring for Toronto with a power play at 9:04 of the first period, but Bob Joyce tied the score at 10:30 with a shot through goalie Peter Ing's pads.
Mike Millar scored for the Maple Leafs on a slap shot from the top of the right circle at 10:47 of the first period, but Peter Zezel -- in his first game back since suffering a sprained ankle Oct. 30 -- scored his first even-up goal of the season on an assist from Joyce at 15:22 of the second period.
Ramage and Ellett gave Toronto the lead, and Dave Reid added an insurance goal with 2:08 remaining.
"It was a nasty game," Toronto coach Tom Watt said. "Both teams came out snarling and kept it up the entire game. This is a crazy business. Washington is among the leaders in power-play scoring and penalty killing, and we are near the bottom in each category. But today, we score three power-play goals and hold them without a goal in eight chances.
"We did nothing fancy. We just shot the puck from the point and charged the net."
Millar, another former Skipjack, said of his goal: "Vince Damphousse got the puck off the boards, and I was cutting through the middle of the ice. He put the puck right on my stick and I just tried to put it on goal."
Washington captain Rod Langway said: "I don't know if this was our worst game of the year, but we had some bad letdowns, both offensively and defensively, in the third period. We were very much in the game for 2 1/2 periods, and then everything collapsed."
Caps defenseman Kevin Hatcher said: "The special teams were the difference in the game. No one is happy. We knew that Toronto had only nine wins coming in, but we didn't bear down enough. We didn't have the proper discipline and intensity."
NOTES: D Chris Felix, on recall from the Skipjacks, suffered a broken ankle in the first period and had to be helped from the ice. . . . The Capitals scratched D Mikhail Tatarinov, RW Tim Bergland, LW Dave Tippett, LW Alan May and C Rob Murray. . . . Bob Clarke, general manager of the North Stars, was at the game. He had been at the Skipjacks-Bears game in Baltimore Friday night, but could not get a flight out of Baltimore-Washington International or Washington National airports because of the fog.
Toronto 2 0 3 -- 5
Washington 1 1 0 -- 2
First period--1, Toronto, Shedden 5 (Krushelnyski, Sacco), 9:04 (pp). 2, Washington, Joyce 2 (Lalor, Pivonka), 10:30. 3, Toronto, Millar 1 (Fenton, Damphousse), 10:47. Penalties--Iafrate, Tor (holding), 6:36; Hatcher, Was (tripping), 7:27; Maguire, Tor (slashing), 9:53; Druce, Was (slashing), 9:53; Richardson, Tor, double minor (tripping, cross-checking), 14:22; Ridley, Was (charging), 17:30.