TORONTO – Mike Knuble scored in the fourth round of the shootout to lift the Washington Capitals to a 3-2 victory over Toronto on Tuesday night after the Maple Leafs were eliminated from playoff contention.
Alex Ovechkin and John Erskine scored in regulation for the Capitals, who clinched the Southeast Division title for the fourth straight year. Knuble had the only goal in the shootout.
Nikolai Kulemin and Joffrey Lupul scored for the Maple Leafs, whose postseason push ended when Buffalo beat Tampa Bay 4-2. Toronto will miss the playoffs for franchise-record sixth straight season.
Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer finished with 39 saves, including several on shots by Ovechkin.
Toronto was a long shot to even find itself in a playoff race after sitting 12 points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference at the All-Star break. However, the Maple Leafs got 42 points in a 31-game stretch (18-7-6) to stay alive until the final days of the regular season.
Kulemin got the Leafs off to a good start with his 30th goal of the season. With linemates Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur going to the net, he fooled Michal Neuvirth with a wrist shot off the rush at 5:37 of the first on a power play.
Toronto did a nice job of carrying the early momentum but it started to slip away with two straight penalties.
Ovechkin tied it 1-1 while the Caps held a 5-on-3 advantage, wiring a point shot past Reimer for his 31st of the season and 300th of his NHL career.
The Leafs went back ahead just 1:35 into the second period. Phil Kessel found Lupul with a perfect cross-ice pass and the big winger converted his fifth goal in the last seven games.
Washington continued to press and was rewarded with a good bounce when Erskine's wrist shot from the point bounced off Luke Schenn's glove and into the goal at 12:07.
The score was tied heading to the final period despite Washington holding a 26-10 advantage on shots.
NOTES: Fredrik Sjostrom and Brett Lebda were scratched for Toronto. ... Capitals D Mike Green sat out his 18th straight game with a concussion, but could return Wednesday against Florida. ... Alex Semin also sat out for Washington. ... Erskine got his first goal since Nov. 26.