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Mike Knuble #22 of the Washington Capitals scores against Vesa Toskala #35 of the Toronto Maple Leafs off an Alex Ovechkin #8 assist at the Verizon Center on January 15, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) (Greg Fiume/2010 Getty Images)
Mike Knuble #22 of the Washington Capitals scores against Vesa Toskala #35 of the Toronto Maple Leafs off an Alex Ovechkin #8 assist at the Verizon Center on January 15, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) (Greg Fiume/2010 Getty Images)

Capitals crush Maple Leafs Add to ...

The superlatives were getting as dull as the Toronto Maple Leafs hopes, so Washington Capitals winger Mike Knuble decided to think for a minute before continuing a discussion of Alexander Ovechkin.

Forty-nine seconds into last night's game, Ovechkin snapped off a shot to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead and end whatever dreams Vesa Toskala may have had of extending his shut-out streak after Thursday's win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

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Two nights before against the Florida Panthers, Ovechkin had scored 27 seconds into the third period.

"Thing is," said Knuble, "I've seen him have games where he'll have 10 shots and nothing goes in. Then, games like (last night's) where everything's working. And it's not like something has to happen to get him started because … well, he's a self-starter."

Playing their third game in four nights, the Maple Leafs were little more than road-kill for the Capitals at the Verizon Center. Ovechkin had his first four-assist game and flirted with his first career six-point game before settling for five points in a 6-1 win.

Knuble had two goals, with Tomas Fleischman, Tom Poti and Eric Fehr adding the others. Tomas Kaberle scored for the Leafs, who continued their one-team crusade to make the shots on goal a meaningless statistic.

"They scored on just about every chance they had," said head coach Ron Wilson. "And we have to get twice as many chances to compete with a team like that. We didn't; we had about the same number of chances. Ovechkin makes things happen. If you play the game with a deer in the headlights kind of mould, then you're probably going to get run over by a car - like a deer would."

Ovechkin toyed with the Leafs, who ended up doing what they usually do: running out their thugs for some after-the-fact nonsense, highlighted when Colton Orr dropped Mike Green with the game already over. It didn't prove much of anything - the Leafs are so bad nobody's much interested in their "messages," any more.

To their credit, the Leafs did not roll over after Ovechkin's early goal. The line of Nikolai Kulemin, Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak had it's moments. The Leafs can whine about a disallowed goal that would have tied it - but it was the appropriate call. They had another goal disallowed when Alexei Ponikarovsky was called for a high-stick.

"After the first shift, I thought they took it to us a little bit," said Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau. "After the first period, they definitely didn't have the energy they had."

Ovechkin said that the Capitals game plan was to push the Leafs defenders into the face of Toskala. The Leafs helped up by retreating at will, leaving Wilson to fume about "defencemen backing off and showing too much respect for Ovechkin."

Show respect? Hell, at times they all but asked Ovechkin for his autograph.

"There were guys all over the net." Knuble said. "We had a lot of traffic around the net. That's good. Their defencemen backed right into the crease on my first goal. It's overwhelming for a defenceman and a goalie in that situation."

The Leafs play their next four games on the road, too - starting Monday in Nashville.

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