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Game Day Preview

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (23-17-4-1) at Washington Capitals (21-16-5-3).

TIME: Friday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Washington Capitals can set a franchise record by registering at least one point for the 15th straight game when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the MCI Center.

After spending the first two months of the season hovering around .500, the Capitals have gained at least one point in 14 consecutive games (8-0-3-3) to take over sole possession of first place in the Southeast Division.

This is Washington's third streak of recording points in 14 straight, though the previous times came during the 1980s when teams did not get a point for an overtime loss. The Caps were 13-0-1 from Jan. 17-Feb. 18, 1984.
Mikael renberg is expected back at Washington tonight.
Graig Abel Photography

Rangers defenseman Joel Bouchard scored 1:58 into overtime Wednesday, lifting New York to a 2-1 victory over Washington.

The loss snapped the Capitals' five-game unbeaten streak, but extended their lead in the Southeast to four points over Tampa Bay.

"One point is better than nothing," Jaromir Jagr said. "But playing at home, we should have gotten more."

After totaling 11 points in successive games, Jagr was limited to an assist on Kip Miller's goal. Jagr fell far short of matching the record of 15 points in three games held by Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Peter Stastny.

While Jagr has been Washington's best player of late, goalie Olaf Kolzig has been the main catalyst over the past month. Since returning from a groin injury, Kolzig has yielded just 25 goals during an 8-3-2 stretch.

Toronto leads the NHL with 16 home wins, including a current 12-0-1 run at the Air Canada Centre, but has been outscored 11-3 in its last two road games.

The Leafs continued their strong play at home Tuesday with a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames.

Robert Reichel and Mats Sundin scored third-period goals and Ed Belfour stopped 31 shots for Toronto, which has won just seven of 20 road games (7-10-2-1).

"We are in that little stage right now where out team play is not solid," coach Pat Quinn said. "We might have some good individual efforts, but 20 individuals don't win hockey games. Twenty individuals do when they come together, but we are not in that together stage at this particular time."

Clearly, Belfour has been Toronto's best player this season, and possibly the league's best goaltender. Tuesday's win was the 385th of his career, tying him with Mike Vernon for seventh on the all-time list.

"He's been doing it all season. He gives us confidence as a team," Sundin said.

STANDINGS (through Jan. 15):
Maple Leafs - 51 points, 2nd place, 11 PB, Northeast Division.
Capitals - 50 points, 1st place, Southeast Division.

Maple Leafs - Alexander Mogilny, 20 goals, 29 assists and 49 points; Tie Domi, 92 PIM.
Capitals - Jagr, 23 goals and 48 points; Michael Nylander, 27 assists; Brendan Witt, 66 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 15):
Maple Leafs - Power play: 19.4 percent (40 for 206), 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.8 percent (198 for 228), 4th (tied).
Capitals - Power play: 16.1 percent (32 for 199), 16th (tied). Penalty killing: 80.8 percent (185 for 229), 25th.

Maple Leafs - Belfour (21-12-3, 5 SO, 2.07 GAA); Trevor Kidd (2-6-1, 3.88).
Capitals - Kolzig (17-12-3, 1, 2.38); Sebastien Charpentier (3-4-1, 2.63).

SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 26; Maple Leafs, 5-4. At Toronto, Robert Svehla scored a tiebreaking power-play goal at 4:52 of the third period to lift the Leafs.

Nylander had a goal and two assists for the Caps.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 7-10-2-1 on the road; Capitals - 13-5-1-2 at home.
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