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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Friday, December 19th (All times eastern)

Toronto Maple Leafs (18-6-5-3) at Washington Capitals (10-19-2-1), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Toronto Maple Leafs seek their fourth consecutive win tonight when they visit the Washington Capitals at the MCI Center.

Toronto, which has won 11 of its last 12 overall and six straight on the road, enters the matchup with a Northeast Division-leading 44 points. The Leafs trail Philadelphia by one in the race for the National Hockey League's best record.

On Tuesday, Toronto posted a 3-0 victory over the then-slumping Tampa Bay Lightning up at Air Canada Centre. Mats Sundin and Gary Roberts both tallied a goal and an assist in the third period to lead the effort.

Ed Belfour made 21 saves and notched his fourth shutout of the season for Toronto, whose lone setback in the last 12 tilts was to the St. Louis Blues, in overtime, on December 9.

Toronto's six consecutive road victories are one shy of the team record set three previous times. The most recent instance was just last season, from January 29 - February 22. Prior to that, the Leafs had only won seven straight away from home in 1940-41 and 1960-61.

Pat Quinn's club will host Montreal on Saturday.

Washington, meanwhile, hopes to build on the momentum generated by new head coach Glen Hanlon. Hanlon is 2-1-1 since replacing the fired Bruce Cassidy last week.

On Wednesday, the Panthers' Stephen Weiss scored on the power play midway through the third period to help Florida salvage a 2-2 tie at the Office Depot Center. Bates Battaglia and Peter Bondra scored for the Capitals, who are still tied with Pittsburgh for the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

Maxime Ouellet, who posted a shutout in his season debut a day earlier, turned away 20 shots for Washington. Ouellet, who was obtained from Philadelphia in the Adam Oates deal two seasons ago, is expected to yield the net to regular starter Olie Kolzig tonight. Kolzig has had a simply awful season, going 8-18-1 with a 3.25 goals-against average and .886 save percentage.

The Caps were forced to play without forward Jaromir Jagr, who is sidelined with a thumb injury suffered when he was slashed against Atlanta on Tuesday. Jagr is expected to miss tonight's contest as well.

Washington, which has lost four of its last five on home ice, opens a five- game set tonight and will host the NY Islanders on Sunday.

Toronto is 1-0-1 against Washington this season and 5-0-1 in the last six meetings. The Leafs are 4-0-1 in their last five trips to DC.

12/19 10:22:57 ET

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