At this point in the season, the Washington Capitals will almost certainly face a daily battle for playoff positioning, so their duty is to win … and in regulation if at all possible.
They accomplished that task on Sunday, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 in a game that displayed a little bit of the dysfunction – and fun – that both teams have produced in the 2013-14 season.
The shot totals might highlight the two teams’ scatterbrained ways most simply. Washington dominated the first period, outscoring Toronto 3-1 while generating a 14-2 shot advantage. The Maple Leafs nearly reversed that in the second period, firing 20 shots to the Capitals’ 6. Washington moved the seesaw in the other direction one more time, eventually winning the shots battle 33-29 and the game 4-2.
For better or worse, it appears that Washington will indeed lean on Jaroslav Halak pretty heavily going forward; this was their newly acquired goalie’s fifth consecutive start.
The Capitals face a tough road ahead, with a three-game road trip against California’s three formidable teams followed by a second game against Los Angeles at home. Eight of their last 13 games are on the road, so grabbing these past four points in two games against teams about as playoff-desperate as them (Vancouver on Friday, Toronto today) could come in awfully handy.
The Maple Leafs remain four points ahead of the Capitals with 80 points to Washington’s 76, with both having played 69 games so far this season. Toronto won’t get a rest against teams fighting to remain relevant in the playoff bubble, either, as their next game comes versus the Red Wings in Detroit on Tuesday.