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Tucker, Maple Leafs pound struggling Capitals

Nov 25, 2006 - 2:44 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Darcy Tucker and the Toronto Maple Leafs gave the Washington Capitals blue line seven more reasons to frown.

Tucker scored his team-leading 16th goal and had two assists as the Maple Leafs routed the reeling Capitals, 7-1.

It was the highest scoring output of the season for Toronto, which entered with losses in three of its four previous games. But the Maple Leafs started with a flurry on Friday and never looked back.

"We certainly didn't want to get embarrassed tonight," Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. "We had many opportunities to tie the game when we were down by one goal. After taking a couple of penalties, they almost scored at will on every opportunity."

Kyle Wellwood opened the scoring just 63 seconds into the contest and Michael Peca tallied at 2:44 to give Toronto an early 2-0 lead.

"You learn from past games," Peca said. "I think the recent Islanders game was a lesson for us. That's why you want to get off to a good start. We let up a little and then we continued to work hard."

Reigning Calder Trophy winner Alexander Ovechkin scored off a rebound with 2:12 remaining in the opening session to halve Washington's deficit, but Toronto tallied four times in the second period to take control.

"We found ways to win as you saw here tonight," Toronto coach Paul Maurice said. "We got a lucky bounce on one goal, and the three-goal outburst was the major tuning point of the game."

Defenseman Bryan McCabe gave the Maple Leafs a 3-1 cushion with a power-play tally off a feed from Tucker at 10:09 of the middle session, and Jeff O'Neill added a man-advantage goal just 14 seconds later.

Tucker extended his goal-scoring streak to four games at 14:19 of the second period, taking a feed from O'Neill and beating goaltender Brent Johnson to make it 6-1.

The Maple Leafs provided more than enough support for netminder Andrew Raycroft, who made 22 saves.

Johnson clearly looked rusty in just his seventh start this season, turning aside 21 shots. Ovechkin's team-leading 14th goal came on the power play for the Capitals, who have lost five straight.

"I don't know what happened in the second period," Ovechkin said. "We lost that period. I don't know what happened to us, but we must figure what's wrong and just play better defensively."






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