By Sally Fahey
Alex Ovechkin tied Sergei Fedorov for most NHL points by a Russia-born player (1,179), but the visiting Washington Capitals lost their seventh straight game, 6-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It’s gone now, that’s it. We have an [All-Star Game break], let’s move on,” Ovechkin said. “I think we made too many mistakes, all of us. We know the system, it works, but we try to do too much. Right now, we need the break. We’re going to take it, relax and enjoy time with the families and friends and come back ready to go.”
Nazem Kadri had a hat trick and an assist, William Nylander had three assists, and Frederik Andersen made 41 saves for the Maple Leafs (30-17-2), who had lost two in a row and four of their previous five.
“We wanted this one for sure,” Kadri said. “We wanted to feel good about ourselves heading into the break and I think we achieved that. Previous games we felt like we’ve been trending in the right direction, but we just hadn’t been getting the results. But it’s definitely nice to play a full 60 minutes and beat a good team like that.”
Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and an assist, T.J. Oshie had two assists, and Braden Holtby made 31 saves for the Capitals (27-17-6), who are 0-5-2 during their losing streak. It is the first time Washington has lost seven straight since Jan. 12-24, 2014 (0-5-2).
“We all need to step up here, we all need to play better as a team,” Backstrom said. “I think we’re not happy the way we’re playing. That’s something we need to think about over the break here. I think all over the ice is concerning. I shouldn’t say concerning, but we need better efforts from everybody.”
Ovechkin tied Fedorov when he scored his NHL-leading 37th goal of the season at 3:51 of the second period to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead, taking a pass at the blue line from Oshie and scoring on a slap shot from the top of the right circle.
“Of course it’s special. It’s nice, of course, it’s a big privilege especially when you played together (70 games from 2008-09) and you learned a lot from that legend,” Ovechkin said.
Nikita Zaitsev scored his first of the season to tie it 2-2 at 13:11 on a shot from the high slot. It was his first goal since March 30, 2018 (53 games).
Auston Matthews gave Toronto a 3-2 lead at 16:19, beating Holtby five-hole on the power play.
“It felt pretty good, especially going into the break,” said Matthews, who had gone seven games without a goal. “Kind of takes your mind off it a little bit. Let’s you enjoy San Jose (at the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend), enjoy the couple days you get off and just get your mind off everything.”
Kadri made it 4-2 at 2:10 of the third period on a one-timer off a pass from Connor Brown, and he completed the hat trick to extend the lead to 5-2 at 10:15 on a rebound into an open net after Brown’s initial shot hit the post.
Matt Niskanen cut it to 5-3 at 17:14, but Mitchell Marner scored into an empty net at 19:27 for the 6-3 final.
Backstrom gave Washington a 1-0 lead at 18:47 of the first period when he tapped in a cross-crease pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov on the power play.
Kadri scored 47 seconds later to tie it 1-1, jamming in a loose puck in the crease as Holtby was reaching to cover it.
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