for this game

Capitals blank struggling Maple Leafs

Mar 12, 2012 - 12:31 AM
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Michal Neuvirth made 23 saves for his third shutout of the season and Washington strengthened its grip on a playoff spot with a 2-0 win over the slumping Toronto Maple Leafs.

Brooks Laich and Mathieu Perreault provided the goals for the Capitals, who notched their third consecutive win to move four points ahead of both Winnipeg and Buffalo for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Washington remains one point behind first-place Florida in the Southeast.

Jonas Gustavsson stopped 21 shots for Toronto team that was blanked for the second day in a row. The Maple Leafs, coming off a 1-0 shootout loss to Philadelphia on Saturday, have dropped four straight and 14 of 16 overall.

"Of course it's frustrating for all of us, we really wanted to get a couple of wins," Gustavsson said. "I think the guys have been working real hard for it to, [but] for some reason we haven't been able to score goals."

Washington failed to cash in a power play early in the contest, but Laich opened the scoring with a short-handed goal. Laich picked off a drop pass from Toronto rookie defenseman Jake Gardiner in the neutral zone and beat Gustavsson from the right circle with a wrister midway through the first period.

"Gardiner started skating [the puck] up and he didn't look at me and I was behind him," Laich said. "I was actually surprised [that he dropped it]. I thought he was just going to dump it, but he did drop it and then I was able to make a play off it."

Perreault flipped a rebound off an Alexander Semin shot over a prone goalie from the side of the net to double the Capitals' advantage 42 seconds into the third period.

Game Notes

Neuvirth played in his 100th NHL game and recorded his seventh career shutout...Semin has 398 career points...The Capitals improved to 5-0-1 at home against Toronto since a 2-1 regulation defeat March 5, 2009...The Maple Leafs opened a five-game road trip.