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Van Riemsdyk carries Maple Leafs to win over Capitals

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While Phil Kessel continues to search for his first goal of the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs are beginning to find ways to win without his offense.

James van Riemsdyk scored a pair of goals, rookie defenseman Korbinian Holzer netted the first goal of his NHL career and backup goaltender Ben Scrivens turned aside 24 of 26 shots to give the Maple Leafs a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals in front of a sellout crowd at Verizon Center on Tuesday night.

"That's what you ask from your goaltender, to give you a chance to win and I thought (Scrivens) did that," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said.

"This is a pretty raucous building, the crowd is noisy and you're playing against (Alex) Ovechkin and the Capitals have a lot of firepower. I thought he responded very well for us."

The Leafs (5-5-0) ended a two-game losing streak. The Capitals (2-7-1) have lost four of their last five games and remain last in the Eastern Conference.

"You run out of cliches to say to the guys," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "It's tough to keep our confidence up. It's part of the job. We have to figure out ways to get the guys to understand they're doing a lot of good things and hopefully they'll turn our way."

Recalled from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League on Sunday, Holzer scored his first NHL goal in his fourth NHL game when he blasted a shot through the pads of Washington goaltender Michal Neuvirth 10:34 into the second period to give the Leafs a 3-1 lead.

It stood up as the game winner.

"I knew someone had tipped it," Holzer said. "But everybody told me, 'It was yours.' It was a special feeling."

Scrivens joked that Holzer would probably tell his grandchildren a different story about his first NHL goal.

"I'm ecstatic for him," Scrivens said. "He's had a long road to get to this point. This is a milestone he will look back on for a long, long time. The first NHL goal is a huge thing. I'm sure he'll keep that puck and tell his kids and grandkids about his rocket from the point he put top corner."

The Capitals drew within 3-2 on a power-play goal by Mike Ribeiro with 6:47 gone in the third period but Scrivens was solid down the stretch to improve to 2-2-0.

Ovechkin finished with four shots for the Caps but remains stuck on two goals. On Ribeiro's goal he rumbled into the offensive zone and fed Troy Brouwer, who dished to Ribeiro in the right circle. Ribeiro took his time measuring Scrivens and beat him with a high shot under the crossbar.

Earlier, van Riemsdyk gave the Maple Leafs a 2-0 lead with goals 2:35 apart in the opening period.

His first came midway through the period on a bad exchange between Washington goaltender Michal Neuvirth and defenseman Tom Poti. Neuvirth went behind his net to leave the puck for Poti, but van Riemsdyk swooped in to steal the puck and use his massive wing span to tuck a wrap-around backhander into the open net.

"I saw them kind of looking at each other like who was going to take the puck and it was just sitting there," van Riemsdyk said. "So I went to go grab it and was able to wrap it in."

Poti said it was a classic case of miscommunication.

"He thought I was going to get open for a pass and I thought he was going to leave the puck there," Poti said. "We have to be sharper there."

Van Riemsdyk netted his second goal of the night and team-high sixth of the season a few shifts later when he finished off an aborted 3-on-2 by jabbing a shot past a scrambling Neuvirth.

The Capitals got back in the game when Kessel took a holding penalty that led to Marcus Johansson's power-play goal, his first of the season. Nicklas Backstrom started the play by fishing the puck away from Scrivens, who was making his fourth start of the season. Backstrom fed defenseman Tomas Kundratek in the left circle and the rookie blue-liner found Johansson at the side of the net.

NOTES: Kundratek's assist on Johansson's goal was the first point of his career. Washington entered the game ranked 25th in scoring, averaging 2.33 goals per game. After netting a career-high 37 goals and 82 points last season, Kessel entered Tuesday night's game with no goals on 40 shots and four assists in nine games. Maple Leafs right wing Matt Frattin entered the game with five goals in his previous six games. ... Ribeiro entered the game with a team-high 10 points and had four multi-point games. ... Washington was without forward Brooks Laich (groin) and defenseman Jack Hillen (shoulder). Laich has resumed skating and could return to the lineup within a week or two. ... Toronto was without forward Mike Brown (upper body) and defenseman Carl Gunnarsson (lower body). Both are day-to-day, while forward Joffrey Lupul (broken forearm) is on injured reserve. ... Capitals defenseman John Erskine served the second of a three-game suspension for elbowing Philadelphia forward Wayne Simmonds. He will complete the suspension Thursday night in Pittsburgh and is eligible to return on Saturday against the Florida Panthers. ... The Leafs continue their three-game road trip with stops in Winnipeg on Thursday and Montreal on Saturday.

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