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Game Day Preview

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (33-21-4-1) at Washington Capitals (28-23-7-3).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.

After escaping serious injury in his last appearance, Olaf Kolzig expects to be back in net when the Washington Capitals take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opener a four-game homestand.

Kolzig left Monday's 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay after being kneed in the head late in the third period by Lightning wing Ben Clymer.

Though Kolzig didn't suffer a concussion, he didn't practice Tuesday because of a sore neck and shoulders.

"I just wasn't able to respond after I got hit," he told The Washington Post. "It took a little while for the cobwebs to clear, but basically it's just a stinger around my neck." Kolzig has started 19 of the Capitals' last 21 games, and Washington needs him to stay healthy as it clings to its lead atop the Southeast Division.

The Capitals have dropped four of seven (3-4-0), and lead the second-place Lightning by just four points.

If the Capitals do relinquish that lead, they would likely be fighting for one of the Eastern Conference's final playoff berths. The Lightning currently own the eighth and final spot.

Toronto, however, is in fifth place in the East, two points behind fourth-place Philadelphia, after winning four straight.

The Maple Leafs have also won eight of nine (8-1-0) with Tuesday's 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Darcy Tucker, Jonas Hoglund, Alexander Mogilny and Tom Fitzgerald scored for the Maple Leafs, while Ed Belfour made 21 saves.

That proportional effort pleased coach Toronto coach Pat Quinn.

"Hopefully, there will come a time when that balance carries us further," Quinn said. "We've been very successful in the playoffs, but we haven't reached the ultimate goal.

"It's only that balance that gives you that chance. Teams are a lot easier to shut down when there is only one line."

Maple Leafs - 71 points, 2nd place, 13 PB, Northeast Division.
Capitals - 66 points, 1st place, Southeast Division.

Maple Leafs - Mats Sundin, 27 goals; Mogilny, 35 assists and 58 points; Tie Domi, 117 PIM.
Capitals - Jaromir Jagr, 31 goals and 66 points; Sergei Gonchar, 38 assists; Brendan Witt, 84 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 18):
Maple Leafs - Power play: 16.8 percent (45 for 268), 14th in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.7 percent (265 for 302), 2nd.
Capitals - Power play: 19.1 percent (48 for 251), 6th. Penalty killing: 82.6 percent (247 for 299), 20th.

Maple Leafs - Belfour (28-15-3, 6 SO, 2.11 GAA); Trevor Kidd (4-6-1, 3.29).
Capitals - Kolzig (23-18-5, 2, 2.29); Sebastien Charpentier (4-5-1, 2.61).

SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 17; Maple Leafs, 4-1. At Washington, Tucker scored twice and Travis Green has two assists as the Leafs handed the Capitals their first loss in regulation in more than a month. Dainius Zubrus tallied Washington's lone goal and Kolzig turned aside 19 shots.

Maple Leafs - 14-11-2-1 on the road;
Capitals - 17-9-1-2 at home.
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