VIDEO: How the Maple Leafs crush the Capitals as their early problems persist.

For a moment Tuesday night, the Washington Capitals appeared to have done something that they hadn’t all season: take the lead. Washington was on the power play early in the first period, and center Nicklas Backstrom picked up the puck during a scramble in front of the net and fired it over Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Joseph Woll, who was prone in the crease.

The problem for the Capitals: Woll was prone in the crease after captain Alex Ovechkin had tumbled over him and into the net. Following a brief review, the goal that the Maple Leafs had challenged for goaltender interference was removed from the scoreboard.

Though it was denied a chance to build early momentum, Washington still outshot Toronto by 20. But the Maple Leafs did all the meaningful scoring from that point on as they rolled to a 4-1 win at Capital One Arena. Darcy Kuemper made just 13 saves as the Capitals dropped to 1-3-1.

“I thought it was going to stand, to be honest with you,” Capitals Coach Spencer Carbery said of Backstrom’s goal. “I looked at it a bunch, and as a staff, our video coaches had a pretty good bead on it. It didn’t look like [Ovechkin] really impacted Woll’s ability to make the save. … But it’s the same old story: We’re finding ways to lose hockey games. And in the National Hockey League, you have to figure it [out].”

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Five games into the season, Washington still has yet to hold a lead. Its lone win came in a shootout. Tuesday’s first period was one of the Capitals’ best of the season in terms of the offense they generated, but they couldn’t (legally) get a puck past Woll, and Morgan Rielly scored on the power play at 12:53 to put Toronto (4-2-0) ahead.

Ovechkin was stopped on a penalty shot early in the second period. He finished the period with his first goal of the year after the Maple Leafs as a team had 17 shots on goal. But Washington couldn’t find a way to convert on its other chances.

After reaching career goal No. 823, Ovechkin stated, “We are just frustrated.” “We have so many good chances tonight, and we just couldn’t score.”

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The Capitals have made it a habit to have opportunities but not score, while also having trouble keeping the puck out of the net. Carbery knows he’s starting to sound like a broken record.

“You can do all the good things you want. Without a doubt, there are many positive structural developments happening “stated the first-year coach of the Capitals. “But at the end of the day, if we want to be a good team in this league, you’ve got to find ways to win as opposed to finding ways to lose.”

The Maple Leafs got goals from John Tavares and William Nylander 48 seconds apart early in the second period, and that seemed to sap the energy from the Capitals. Auston Matthews made it 4-0 on the power play at 15:07. Ovechkin’s tally at 19:49, Washington’s first power-play goal of the season, provided a momentary lift, but the momentum didn’t carry over to the third period.

Individual defensive blunders by the Capitals led to the two goals the Maple Leafs scored at even strength: a neat effort off the rush by Nylander and a tip in front by Tavares. Carbery, an assistant coach with Toronto for the past two seasons, pinpointed the difference between the teams.

“They are taking advantage of those scenarios,” he said. “Teams are taking advantage of those scenarios against us right now, and we’re not.”

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The Capitals have a quick turnaround: They visit the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night in the second leg of their first back-to-back of the season. Hunter Shepard, the goalie, is anticipated to make his NHL debut after being called up from Washington’s AHL affiliate on Tuesday.

Shepard, 27, backstopped Hershey to the Calder Cup last season and won two NCAA national titles at Minnesota Duluth, so he isn’t as green as some rookie goalies. Playing in front of a new goaltender has a way of encouraging a team to clamp down defensively, and Carbery insisted that tighter defense is essential.

“Right now we need to win a game, 1-0,” he said. “So that box-out, getting under a stick and not losing that one-on-one, when you look back on these games, that’s the difference in the game. We need to do a better job in those one-on-one situations and help ourselves by potentially scoring two to three goals.”

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