NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, January 15th (All times eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (16-23-9) at Washington Capitals (28-12-6), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Washington Capitals will aim for their fifth victory in six games when they welcome the Toronto Maple Leafs for tonight's encounter at Verizon Center.
The Southeast Division-leading Capitals have won four of their last five games, but have been anything but stingy on the defensive end in their last two contests -- both of which came on the road. Washington dropped a 7-4 decision against Tampa Bay on Tuesday and edged Florida, 5-4, in a shootout the following night.
Tomas Fleischmann notched the winner in the sixth round of the shootout, as Washington rallied from a three-goal deficit to down the Panthers and complete a three-game road trip. The Capitals were down 4-1 midway through the second period, but closed regulation with three unanswered goals to sent the game to OT.
Then, with the shootout tied at two apiece after Cory Stillman's goal for Florida to begin the sixth round, Fleischmann made a stick fake and scored on the forehand to seal the game for the visitors.
Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Jason Chimera and Brian Pothier tallied for the Capitals.
"We sometimes get that feeling, like we had tonight, that something good was going to come out of it," said Caps head coach Bruce Boudreau. "They got to 4-1 and I still thought we were in striking range. Then, when it was 4-2, I thought we could come back."
Jose Theodore got the win with 15 stops in relief of starter Michal Neuvirth, who yielded four goals on 15 shots through the first half of regulation. Neuvirth also started Tuesday's game against the Lightning and was pulled from that test after also surrendering four goals on 15 shots.
Washington's No. 1 netminder Semyon Varlamov hasn't played since December 7 in Tampa, but is apparently nearing a return from a right knee injury. The 21- year-old Russian is 12-1-2 this year with a 2.21 goals-against average and is currently listed as day-to-day.
Tonight marks the opener of a three-game homestand for the Capitals, who are 14-3-3 as the host this year and have won seven of their last eight home tests.
Toronto, which is last in the Northeast with 41 points, was able to end a four-game slide in its last outing. The Maple Leafs notched a 4-0 victory over visiting Philadelphia to earn just their second win in eight games,
Vesa Toskala stopped all 38 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season in Thursday's triumph at Air Canada Centre.
"After the first period, where I was a little rusty, I was able to adjust," Toskala said. "I felt like I was in good shape for the rest of the night."
Tyler Bozak recorded his first career goal for the Maple Leafs. Nikolai Kulemin, Luke Schenn and Lee Stempniak also tallied for Toronto, which avenged a 6-2 setback in Philly last Wednesday.
The Maple Leafs will kick off a five-game road trip tonight and they'll try to improve their play as the guest during the swing. Toronto is just 7-13-4 as the visitor this year and has lost four straight and eight of its last nine on the road.
Tonight marks the fourth and final scheduled meeting between the Caps and Maple Leafs this year. Toronto has taken two of the three matchups so far, but both of its victories came on home ice. The Leafs have taken four of five overall in the series, but have dropped four of their last six in D.C.
01/15 10:48:57 ET