NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, January 22nd
(All times eastern)
Washington Capitals (26-14-8) at Toronto Maple Leafs (19-22-5), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Washington Capitals have recorded points in three
straight games and will aim for consecutive victories when they visit the
Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at Air Canada Centre.
The Capitals are 2-0-1 in their last three outings after posting an 0-2-1 mark
in their previous three contests.
Washington, which is three points behind Tampa Bay for the Southeast Division
lead, is coming off Thursday's close victory over the New York Islanders.
Tonight, the Caps can record consecutive wins for the first time since a
three-game winning streak from Dec. 26-Jan. 1.
The Capitals recorded a 2-1 regulation win over the Isles at Nassau Coliseum
on Thursday. Rookie goaltender Braden Holtby was solid with 24 saves and Alex
Ovechkin assisted on both Washington goals.
Holtby was making the start after being recalled from Hershey due to a lower-
body injury suffered by Michal Neuvirth on Tuesday.
"Our defense was strong tonight," said Holtby, who is 3-2-1 in six career
games. "We were getting into shooting lanes and blocking shots, and that was
the key to the game."
Washington netminder Semyon Varlamov is also battling a lower-body injury, but
he was healthy enough to serve as the backup to Holtby on Thursday and the
Russian backstop could get the start tonight.
Jason Chimera and Nicklas Backstrom scored Thursday for the Capitals, who have
earned at least one point in 12 of their last 14 games (8-2-4).
Toronto, which is currently 11 points out of a potential playoff spot in the
East, ended a three-game slide its last time out when it notched a decisive
victory over Anaheim. The 5-2 victory over the Ducks came one night after the
Maple Leafs were shelled in a 7-0 loss to the host New York Rangers.
Mikhail Grabovski scored twice during a four-goal rally that helped Toronto
defeat the Ducks at Air Canada Centre. Clarke MacArthur played an active role
in the Maple Leafs' offense with a goal and two assists, while Tyler Bozak and
Carl Gunnarsson also tallied in the win.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 26-of-28 shots against his former team.
"It's always fun to play your old team," Giguere said. "I was a little nervous
before the game. I wanted to win this one. As a team, we needed to wash away
what happened [Wednesday] and there's no better way to do that then come out
and get a big win."
Giguere spent parts of nine seasons in Anaheim before getting dealt to Toronto
last January. His tenure with the Ducks included a Conn Smythe Trophy in 2003
and a Stanley Cup title in 2007. Giguere is Anaheim's all-time leader in wins
(206), shutouts (32) and games played by a goalie (447).
Thursday's victory improved Toronto to 10-10-4 on home ice this season.
The Maple Leafs will have Mike Brown available tonight now that the forward
has served a three-game suspension for last week's head hit on Phoenix's Ed
Jovanovski. Fellow forward Fredrik Sjostrom has missed the last four games
with a leg injury and is questionable for tonight.
The Caps and Leafs have played to a pair of 5-4 shootout decisions in D.C.
this season. Washington won the first encounter on Nov. 3 and the Maple Leafs
notched a win at the Verizon Center on Dec. 6. Toronto has taken five of eight
in the series and the clubs have split the last 10 meetings.
Washington, which is 10-9-3 as the guest this year, has lost three straight
and four of its last five games in Toronto.
01/22 10:41:07 ET