Capitals defeat Maple Leafs outdoors at Navy

Associated Press

Andersen didn't offer much by way of explanation for the way this game went, although he did mention that the outdoor conditions might have made finding the puck more of a challenge than usual. Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and two assists. Zach Hyman scored in the first after Washington had taken the lead, and Nazem Kadri scored in the second to bring the Leafs within one - 3-2 - before the Capitals responded with two quick goals to open up a three-goal lead. Andersen was given the hook because of poor play for the only time in 55 starts this season; he was taken out of a game on February 5 after being hit on the head by another player's skate. And the lights went out in the third period, leading to a unintended 10-minute break.

But while National Hockey League and stadium officials scrambled to restore the illumination, fans in attendance helped by pulling out the lighters - or smartphones, or whatever. Navy midshipmen and Canadian servicemen and women took part in a patriotic pregame ceremony capped off by a memorable flyover with only the afterburners visible against the night sky. Neither team skated on the surface until game time because of wind. They actually thrived on the big stage to earn two important points in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, who entered the game 3-0-1 with a 2.00 goals-against average against the Capitals, was then replaced by Curtis McElhinney, who finished with nine saves.

All the line juggling in the world - and coach Mike Babcock went to his blender in the second period - couldn't kick-start the Leafs. Andersen stopped 20 shots. There were curlers - the USA men's Olympic gold medallists - sweeping the game puck to the centre-ice dot on a curling stone.

This was the first game the Caps have played in the state of Maryland since closing the Capital Centre (Landover) in 1997. John Shuster's rink and the gold-medal-winning USA women's hockey team were honored as part of the festivities. Former Canadiens teammate Jakub Jerabek could have joined him, but the defenseman was a healthy scratch for the Capitals.

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