CAPITALS (46-22-11) at MAPLE LEAFS (37-32-10)
TV: CSN-DC (HD), SNET-O (HD)
Washington 7-2-1; Toronto 7-3-0
Washington leads the season series with five out of a possible six points on two wins and a shootout loss.
The Maple Leafs must win in order to stay mathematically alive in the playoff race. The Capitals are neck and neck with the Flyers for first in the Eastern Conference and Philadelphia is in action Tuesday night in Ottawa. Both teams have 103 points with three games remaining, and the Flyers have one more non-shootout win. The Capitals would also clinch the Southeast Division with a win or a Lightning loss to the Sabres.
As their pursuit of the top seed in the Eastern Conference continues, the Capitals spent time on the practice ice Monday working on some details in their game. They had to practice without Alexander Semin
, whose status for Tuesday's game has to be questionable based on coach Bruce Boudreau telling reporters, "He's still recovering from his injuries from the past. It's very similar to Ovi. He needs some time off sometimes." Alex Ovechkin
missed three games with "nagging injuries," and Boudreau said "there's a chance" that Semin could miss one of Washington's final three games. Washington will still be without defensemen Mike Green
(concussion), but he isn't ruling out a return in one of the final two games.
"Hopefully, yeah," Green told the Washington Post. "I need a few more skates to get into game shape, and we'll see for the last two games."
They are keeping hope alive in Toronto that the Stanley Cup Playoffs could return to Air Canada Centre. While still very much a longshot, the fact that the Maple Leafs are still mathematically alive entering the final week of the season is a testament to how well they have played since the All-Star break. The Leafs are 18-7-5 since Feb. 1. They've won three in a row and six of their last seven games. James Reimer
has been in net for all those games and has won 20 games in 34 appearances this season. Phil Kessel
on Saturday reached 30 goals for the third straight season.
"I knew when we got Phil that he was going to score for us," Leafs GM Brian Burke told the Toronto Sun. "I'm more impressed now with his overall game. He's playing on all 200 feet of the ice, he's battling for pucks, forechecking and he's getting pucks out. Thirty is a significant milestone and I'm happy for him."
Ovechkin had three points, including the overtime winner, in Saturday's 5-4 win over Buffalo. Nicklas Backstrom
had three assists. … Kessel has 11 goals and 16 assists for 27 points in his last 26 games. He's on a seven-game points streak.
The Caps are still without defensemen Green (concussion), Tom Poti
(groin) and Dennis Wideman
(leg). … Colton Orr
(concussion) and Colby Armstrong
(broken foot) are still out for the Leafs.
Washington is 16-3-1 in its last 20 games, including an 8-2-0 record on the road. … Toronto is 12-5-3 in its last 20 games, including a 5-3-1 record at home.
"Despite the small amount of success we've had, guys haven't got up too high," Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek
told the Toronto Star. "We still have a lot of work to do. We're still on the outside looking in."