Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Saturday, October 3rd
Maple Leafs4Final
Game 2: Saturday, November 21st
Maple Leafs2
Game 3: Saturday, December 12th
Maple Leafs6
Game 4: Friday, January 15th
Maple Leafs1Final

Maple Leafs 1

(16-24-9, 41 pts)

Capitals 6

(29-12-6, 64 pts)

7:00 PM ET, January 15, 2010

Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia

1 2 3 T
TOR 0 1 01
WSH 2 2 26

A. Ovechkin (Capitals - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 4

M. Knuble (Capitals - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

J. Theodore (Capitals - G): Saves: 28, Save Pct.: .966

Maple Leafs-Capitals Preview


Although Washington is near the top of the Eastern Conference and the Toronto Maple Leafs are close to the bottom, the Capitals have been on the losing end of the last two meetings between these teams.

Washington has a chance to avenge those defeats with a rematch in the nation's capital.

In the opener of a three-game homestand, the Southeast Division-leading Capitals look to continue their dominance at the Verizon Center on Friday night against the Maple Leafs, who try to avoid their ninth loss in 10 road games.

Washington (28-12-6) is three points back of New Jersey for the top spot in the East and boasts a 15-point cushion -- the largest of any division leader -- over second-place Atlanta in the Southeast.

Even though the Capitals lead the league with 171 goals and are one of the favorites to represent the East in the Stanley Cup finals, they haven't looked like a championship contender against the Maple Leafs -- currently 14th in the conference.

Toronto (16-23-9) has allowed an NHL-worst 164 goals, but has held the Capitals' high-powered offense in check in the last two meetings, a 2-1 shootout win Nov. 21 and a 6-3 victory Dec. 12. Both of those contests were in Toronto, though, and things might play out differently at the Verizon Center.

Washington has won 10 of 12 at home, and defeated the Leafs 6-4 there Oct. 3 behind two goals and an assist from Alexander Semin and a goal with two assists from Alex Ovechkin.

The Leafs have lost four straight and eight of nine away from Toronto, scoring two goals or fewer in each of the defeats.

Toronto snapped a four-game overall skid with Thursday's 4-0 home win over Philadelphia.

Before the game, Leafs GM Brian Burke conducted a news conference to answer questions about his struggling team, while giving coach Ron Wilson a vote of confidence.

"We've lost our way," Burke said. "We've got to get back on track."

Rookie Tyler Bozak scored his first NHL goal Thursday and later added an assist, giving him four points in three games. Toronto signed Bozak as an undrafted college free agent last April, hoping he develops into a top forward.

The Leafs' four goals against the Flyers were their most since a 4-3 win at Pittsburgh on Dec. 27, and they'll likely need a similar offensive outburst to keep up with Washington.

The Capitals, who rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat Florida 5-4 in a shootout Wednesday, have won four of five, scoring at least four goals in each of those contests.

Brooks Laich, Tomas Fleischmann and Brendan Morrison accounted for all three Washington goals in the shootout, and coach Bruce Boudreau hopes that will give them some confidence. That trio has struggled lately, combining for three goals in the last 10 games.

"Maybe that we'll jump start them a little bit," Boudreau said.

Ovechkin scored his 28th goal of the season Wednesday, giving him two goals and five assists during a four-game point streak. The two-time league MVP has also scored at least one goal in each of his last five games against the Leafs, and has 17 goals and 10 assists in 18 career games versus Toronto.

Jose Theodore stopped all 15 shots he faced against the Panthers after replacing Michal Neuvirth. This marked a direct reversal of Tuesday's 7-4 loss to Tampa Bay, in which Neuvirth took over for an ineffective Theodore.

With No. 1 goaltender Semyon Varlamov still recovering from a right-knee injury which has sidelined him since Dec. 7, it is uncertain who will start this game for Washington.

Toronto's Vesa Toskala made 38 saves Thursday for his first shutout since October 2008, but rookie Jonas Gustavsson will likely get the start in this back-to-back scenario. Gustavsson is 1-5-2 with a 3.12 goals-against average in his last eight games.