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Ward helps Capitals beat Maple Leafs

Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - Joel Ward scored the winner in the third period to help the Washington Capitals take a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Alex Ovechkin posted a goal and an assist while Nicklas Backstrom also scored for the Capitals, who have won their past two. Michal Neuvirth made 32 stops in the win.

"We felt good out there tonight," said Ovechkin. "Last night's game was fun and it's really important for us to get these points right now. We're fighting for a spot and we need to get on a roll before the Olympics."

Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk each posted a goal and an assist for the Maple Leafs, who have dropped their past four games. Jonathan Bernier gave up all three goals on 35 shots.

"We had some unlucky bounces tonight and that's the way it goes for us tonight," said Bernier. "I thought we all played really hard out there tonight and had a good game, just came up short."

Toronto took a 2-1 lead just 54 seconds into the third as a sharp angle shot from the right circle by Kessel knicked off the stick of Karl Alzner and went in.

Washington, though, tied the game at 4:36 as Backstrom threw a turnaround shot on net from the left circle that hit off a Leaf and snuck past Bernier.

The Caps then took a 3-2 lead with 8:09 to play as Marcus Johansson sent a pass from the right circle to the slot where Ward one-timed it home.

Toronto was unable to net the equalizer in the final minutes despite pulling Bernier for an extra attacker.

After a scoreless first period, the Caps went on top at 6:39 of the second as Mikhail Grabovski's pass from the slot to the left circle was one-timed in by a flying Ovechkin for a 1-0 lead.

Toronto was able to tie the game less than three minutes later on the power play as Kessel threw a shot on net from the right boards that van Riemsdyk tipped in.

Game Notes

Washington hosts Buffalo on Sunday ... Toronto hosts the Devils on Sunday ... The Maple Leafs had taken a 2-1 shootout win over the Capitals in Toronto on Nov. 23 ... Toronto was 1-for-3 on the power play while Washington went 0- for-4.

01/11 01:38:52 ET

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