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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Tuesday, February 28th (All times eastern)

Washington Capitals (19-32-5) at Toronto Maple Leafs (27-25-5), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Toronto Maple Leafs begin the post-Olympic slate with eighth place in sight tonight when they welcome the Washington Capitals to Air Canada Centre.

Toronto is currently ninth in the Eastern Conference with 59 points -- one behind the eighth-place Montreal Canadiens for the final slot. In all, six teams are within eight points in the race for that last berth. The Leafs have not missed out on the playoffs since 1998, the second of back to back years watching from home.

The Maple Leafs hope that some of captain Mats Sundin's good fortune rubs off on the rest of the team. Sundin, of course, captained Team Sweden to the gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games in Torino, culminating with Sunday's victory over Finland. Sundin is expected to play in tonight's match despite spending Monday in Stockholm celebrating the win.

Eric Lindros will be back in the lineup after missing nearly three months with a torn ligament in his wrist. Lindros practiced with the club on Monday.

Toronto lost its final two games before the Olympic break, and won only three times in the final 15 matches.

The Leafs, who are 17-10-2 at home, will visit Buffalo on Friday.

Washington, meanwhile, second-to-last in the Eastern Conference with 43 points -- four ahead of the woeful Pittsburgh Penguins. Examining just how poor the Capitals are is easily done by looking at their goal-differential -- minus-61.

The Capitals have had little to be proud of this season, with the definite exception of rookie Alexander Ovechkin. Ovechkin leads all NHL rookies with 36 goals and 69 points.

Ovechkin and goaltender Olaf Kolzig, who were both representing their countries at the Olympics, arrived late to the team on Monday due to travel and their status for tonight is not known.

Washington, which is 6-18-1 on the road, opens a three-game trip this evening.

The Caps have won two of the three meetings with the Leafs this season.

02/28 14:01:49 ET

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