January 21, 2004
GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (25-12-8-3) at Washington Capitals (14-26-5-2). TIME:
Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST.
Having earned points in each of their last five games, the Washington Capitals hope to continue their recent resurgence when they welcome the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Maple Leafs to the MCI Center.
Washington improved to 3-0-1-1 during its streak with Sunday's 4-3 victory over hapless Pittsburgh.
Peter Bondra, who sat out Saturday's 2-1 overtime loss to New Jersey with the flu, came back with a vengeance, scoring a power-play goal and adding an assist as the Capitals continued their solid play since ending a seven-game winless streak (0-6-1).
"Yesterday was an extra day," Bondra said. "When they left for Jersey, I had a tough day, high fever. But after 24 hours, everything settled down and I got my strength back."
Robert Lang scored his 23rd goal of the season and had three assists for Washington, which moved five points ahead of last-place Pittsburgh in the conference.
"We have to be more creative," Bondra said. "With the skills we have, we have to use them to our advantage -- move around, be creative and change places."
The Maple Leafs maintained their spot atop the conference standings with Tuesday's 2-0 victory over the visiting New York Islanders. Ed Belfour stopped 25 shots for his fifth shutout of the season, and Mikael Renberg and Gary Roberts scored for Toronto, which has won just two of its last six (2-4).
Ottawa remained just one point behind Toronto after beating Carolina 3-1 on Tuesday.
Belfour has 70 career shutouts, just three less than New Jersey's Martin Brodeur for the most among active goalies.
The Maple Leafs lost yet another player to injury Tuesday as Darcy Tucker didn't return after New York's Jason Blake high-sticked him in the face near the end of the second period. Tucker went after Blake after initially dropping to the ice.
The Maple Leafs are already missing forwards Owen Nolan, Alexander Mogilny, Robert Reichel and Wade Belak as well as defenseman Ken Klee.
Nolan has missed eight straight games since being high-sticked in the left eye on Jan. 3. He expects to return next Tuesday.
STANDINGS: Maple Leafs - 61 points, 1st place, Northeast Division. Capitals - 35 points, 5th place, 15 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Roberts, 17 goals; Mats Sundin, 29 assists and 45 points; Tie Domi, 111 PIM. Capitals - Lang, 23 goals and 56 points; Sergei Gonchar, 37 assists; Brendan Witt, 67 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 19): Maple Leafs - Power play: 18.8 percent (41 for 218), 8th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.4 percent (193 for 226), 11th. Capitals - Power play: 20.8 percent (41 for 197), 4th. Penalty killing: 82.7 percent (187 for 214), 24th.
GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Belfour (20-14-5, 5 SO, 2.34 GAA); Trevor Kidd (3-1-1, 1, 2.59). Capitals - Olaf Kolzig (12-24-4, 1, 2.93); Rastislav Stana (1-1-0, 2.78).
SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 1-0-2.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 19; Tie, 2-2, OT. At Washington, Kip Miller and Dainius Zubrus scored power-play goals for the Capitals. Alexei Ponikarovsky and Sundin tallied for the Leafs.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 12-7-6-1 on the road; Capitals - 8-11-3-1 at home.