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Capitals hope to get back on track vs. Leafs

by Eric Goodman /
MAPLE LEAFS (9-12-4) at CAPITALS (18-8-2)
TV --

Last 10 -- Maple Leafs 4-5-1; Capitals 5-4-1

Season series -- This is the second of four games between the Leafs and Caps this season. In their first meeting, Nov. 3, Washington blew a 3-1 third-period lead, but got bailed out by Alexander Semin's tying goal with 5:38 left, and then Alex Ovechkin and Semin scored in the shootout to allow the Capitals to earn a 5-4 victory.

Big Story -- Toronto is in the midst of a three-game losing streak at Verizon Center as it wraps up its 2010-11 road series at the U.S. capital. Meanwhile, the Caps have dropped their last two games and hope to avoid their second three-game losing streak of the season.

Team Scope:
Maple Leafs --
With four losses in its last five games, Toronto is desperate to turn things around. But coach Ron Wilson and company have found it difficult to maintain any sort of consistency this season. It's been nothing but ups and downs all season for the Leafs as they opened the 2010-11 campaign with four straight wins, followed by three consecutive losses. Toronto ended that losing streak with a 3-1 victory against Florida on Oct. 26, but proceeded to go winless over its next eight games.

The Maple Leafs started a two-game road trip with a solid end to a three-game homestand with a come-from-behind 3-2 shootout win against the rival Boston Bruins to end a four-game losing streak.

"I'll take it," said Phil Kessel, who notched the game-winning goal in the shootout. "That's a big one for us, a character win. Hopefully we can get rolling now."

Capitals -- Washington isn't the type of team to drop two straight games in regulation too often, but it quickly goes searching for answers in the rare cases that it does. However, coach Bruce Boudreau didn't have to dig too deep for the reason the Caps lost 2-1 to Dallas on Thursday and 3-1 at home against Atlanta on Saturday. Washington was a combined 1-for-8 on the power play in those two games.

"If you look at the power play, we have everybody just all in a circle looking to take one-timers," Boudreau told the Caps' website Saturday. "Then there was no second-shot capability. Usually when we've got the puck at the point, we have a guy going to the net and we have options."

Who's Hot -- Kris Versteeg has 2 goals and an assist in his last three games for Toronto. … Alex Ovechkin has a goal and 7 assists in his last six games. Ovechkin is second in the League with 23 assists, and is on pace for a career-best 67.

Injury Report -- The Leafs are without defenseman Dion Phaneuf (leg laceration) and forward Mike Brown (broken finger). … Defenseman Tom Poti has missed the Caps' last two games with a groin injury.

Stat Pack -- While the Caps have dropped their last two games, it isn't for lack of trying. Washington has fired a total of 84 shots on goal in those two losses.

Puck Drop -- Washington has put the puck on net over its last couple of games, but the simple act of getting shots on goal isn't necessarily a good thing when players aren't aggressively pursuing quality scoring opportunities.

"You look at our team and we haven't scored a lot of goals lately," Boudreau told the team's website following Saturday's loss to Atlanta. "I think it's the lack of commitment to paying the price to score. We're all wanting to score, but we're staying on the perimeter hoping to get the puck rather than being the guy who's going to get the puck."
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