NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, February 3rd (All times eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (25-22-5) at Washington Capitals (18-28-5), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Toronto Maple Leafs try to escape their current funk tonight when they visit the Washington Capitals at the MCI Center.
The Leafs have lost nine of their last 10 games, with the lone win coming on Monday against the Florida Panthers in the opener of a three-game trip. The next night, Toronto dropped a 3-2 tilt in Tampa, as Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards both scored in the shootout to lift the Lightning.
Darcy Tucker had a goal and an assist while Ed Belfour allowed two goals on 37 shots for Toronto. Chad Kilger also tallied in defeat.
Belfour fell to 1-6-1 in his last nine starting assignments.
On Tuesday the Leafs welcomed defenseman Bryan McCabe back to the lineup, after he had missed nine games with a groin injury. McCabe leads the team with 49 points (15g, 34a).
Toronto continued to struggle in shootouts, as Pat Quinn's club has only converted three of its 13 shootout attempts this season. The Maple Leafs are 2-4 in games decided by a shootout.
The Leafs, who are 10-13-3 on the road, will host New Jersey on Saturday.
Washington, meanwhile, has lost four of its last five games after a season- high four consecutive victories. On Tuesday the shorthanded Caps dropped a 5-3 tilt on Long Island.
Washington was without Alexander Ovechkin and Dainius Zubrus, the team's top two scorers. Ovechkin sat out with a groin injury, but said on Thursday that he expects to play this evening. Zubrus was out with an arm ailment.
Brian Willsie and Matt Pettinger tallied a goal and an assist each and Olaf Kolzig stopped 28 shots for Washington. Jeff Friesen added his second goal of the season for the Caps.
On Wednesday, Ovechkin was named the NHL's Offensive Player and Rookie of the Month for January. He is the third player to win both player and rookie awards in the same month, joining former Washington goaltender Jim Carey (March 1995) and Winnipeg's Teemu Selanne (January 1993). Ovechkin tallied 11 goals and 10 assists during the month of January.
The Caps, who are 12-12-4 on home ice, will visit Tampa Bay on Saturday.
Washington and Toronto have split two meetings this season, with each team winning in its own rink. The Maple Leafs are 7-1-2 (1 loss, 2 ties) in the last 10 meetings overall.
02/03 10:18:21 ET