TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs wanted to make a strong impression for new interim general manager Cliff Fletcher.
"It was good to get a win in his first game," said goalie Vesa Toskala, who made 30 saves. "It was a huge two points for us."
"With everything that's happened, we all feel pressure to win," Sundin said. "Everybody feels it's time to pull up the socks."
Sundin's 21st goal of the season tied him with Maurice Richard for 24th on the career list with 544.
"We've got bigger and more important things to think about right now," Sundin said. "But Rocket Richard was a player we all know about, and to score as many as him and be mentioned with him is a great honor."
The 37-year-old Swede swept a rebound under a sprawling Olaf Kolzig to avoid overtime. It was Sundin's 93rd game-winning goal, and he trails only Jaromir Jagr (111) and Brendan Shanahan (108).
"There was a lot of talk surrounding the team the last six weeks and we've tried to keep our focus," Kilger said. "We know we have a good team. We just have to prove it."
The Maple Leafs' winning surge has followed an 0-5 road trip to Pennsylvania and California.
"We really kept building on some of the good things we've been doing," Sundin said. "We've been playing better defensively and giving ourselves a chance to win.
Kilger opened the scoring at 7:12 when he deflected in Anton Stralman's pass from the blue line for his ninth goal of the season.
Ovechkin tied it 2:27 into the second period when he pounced on a loose puck in the middle of Toronto's zone and fired a wrist shot into a top corner of the net so quickly that Toskala looked frozen.
Steen put Toronto up 2-1 with 1:16 left in the second. Sundin darted out from behind the net and sent a cross-crease pass to an onrushing Nik Antropov, who missed the puck and went flying. Steen was alone to Kolzig's right, and the puck landed on his stick for an easy relay into the open side of the net for his 10th goal.
Semin tied it at 2 with 6:53 left in the third. The Russian went around Pavel Kubina, deked Toskala one way, pulled the puck the other way, and stuffed it into the open net for his 12th goal.
"We didn't give up, but we didn't play our best hockey," Washington defenseman Tom Poti said. "We didn't play that well in the second period, and it showed."
Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, 16-8-4 since replacing the fired Glen Hanlon on Nov. 22, was encouraged to see his team come back from the two deficits.
"In spurts, they came on, and they played very good," Boudreau said of the Leafs. "From the bench, we recognized their spurts and their pushes. We just didn't contain them."
The teams will meet again Thursday night in Washington.
|Mats Sundin and the Leafs are all smiles after they put an end to Washington's win streak. (AP)|
|Toronto (20-22-8) «||1||1||1||3|
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|07:12||Chad Kilger (9), Tip-In. Assist: Anton Stralman|
|02:27||Alex Ovechkin (39), Wrist Shot. Assist: Viktor Kozlov, Steve Eminger|
|18:44||Alexander Steen (10), Wrist Shot. Assist: Mats Sundin, Nik Antropov|
|13:07||Alexander Semin (12), Backhand Shot. Assist: Dave Steckel|
|19:30||Mats Sundin (21), Wrist Shot. Assist: Alexander Steen, Nik Antropov|
|07:36||Gill, 2 min, Holding|
|11:42||Eminger, 2 min, Boarding|
|03:58||Poti, 2 min, Cross-Checking|
|03:58||Poti, 2 min, Roughing|
|03:58||Moore, 2 min, Cross-Checking|
|10:28||Stralman, 2 min, Holding the Stick|
|02:33||Poti, 2 min, Interference|
|09:41||Steen, 2 min, Hooking|
|19:54||Antropov, 2 min, Tripping|
|Shots On Goal|
|Attendance - 19479|
|Referees - Marc Joannette, Bill McCreary|
|Linesmen - Pierre Champoux, Brad Kovachik|