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Maple Leafs' Booth set for home debut vs. Capitals

by Mike Brophy

CAPITALS (10-8-4) at MAPLE LEAFS (11-8-3)

TV: NHLN-US, CBC, CSN-DC

TORONTO -- The waiting game is over for David Booth.

The left wing, who signed a one-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer, will finally make his home debut with his new team after playing his first game of the season Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Maple Leafs host the Washington Capitals Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.

Booth, 30, missed the first 21 games with a broken foot. In his first game he played 9:33 and had one shot on goal in a 4-3 overtime loss to Pittsburgh.

Booth is no stranger to being on injured reserve. He played just 66 games with the Vancouver Canucks last season and only 12 the year before. In 2011-12 he was limited to just six games because of a concussion.

"It's more frustrating just not playing, and whether it's a new team or an old team, it doesn't make that much of a difference," Booth said. "When you come back you want to get out there and prove yourself. When you are on a new team and you break your foot, it is a struggle and it can get you down. I've had to deal with this before, and every time it happens you learn a little bit more. You learn the most through difficult times."

Booth scored 31 goals and 60 points in 2008-09 with the Florida Panthers and the Maple Leafs signed him hoping he'd make up some of the offense that was lost when Mason Raymond signed as a free agent with the Calgary Flames. Booth played on the fourth line against Pittsburgh and the feeling is as he acclimatizes himself to his new team he'll slide up to the third or second line.

Even though he has played 444 games in the NHL, Booth said he still gets pre-game jitters and expects that will be the case when he plays his first game at ACC.

"I think almost every game you get excited to play," Booth said. "I think that's part of being a professional athlete; you get that excitement to play whether it is Game 1, Game 12 or Game 42. You get excited to play and to have the opportunity to compete."

The Capitals are coming off a 5-2 win against the New York Islanders on Friday in which they took a 2-0 lead only to have the Islanders score two goals 35 seconds apart in the final two minutes of the first period.

Capitals center Brooks Laich, who returned to action after missing six games, said his team did not press the panic button after the Islanders surge and the Capitals are pleased with their game.

"Honestly, it wasn't talked about that much between periods," Laich said. "They got the two quick goals which was unfortunate. They got the first off a faceoff and you should never break down off a faceoff because it's a stationary play and you should know your responsibilities. Then they got the next one on a double tip, which was a break for them. We got into the locker room and nobody was panicking. The coach came in, addressed it and said to move on. That was the end of it. We just want to carry our good play over to the next game."

That said, Laich insists there is one area of the game the Capitals need to improve on if they are to be a serious threat in the Eastern Conference.

"Against the Islanders we had a couple of power-play goals, but we didn't do much 5-on-5," Laich said. "If you want to win consistently in this League, especially in the playoffs, you have to score 5-on-5. The power play is a great weapon to have, but you can't just hang your hat on the power play all the time."

Here are the projected lineups:

CAPITALS

Alexander OvechkinNicklas BackstromTom Wilson

Marcus JohanssonEvgeny KuznetsovTroy Brouwer

Jason ChimeraJay BeagleJoel Ward

Brooks LaichAndre BurakovskyEric Fehr

Brooks OrpikJohn Carlson

Karl AlznerMatt Niskanen

Jack HillenNate Schmidt

Justin Peters

Braden Holtby

Scratched: Michael Latta, Liam O'Brien

Injured: Mike Green (upper body), Aaron Volpatti (upper body), Dmitry Orlov (wrist), John Erskine (neck surgery)

MAPLE LEAFS

James van RiemsdykTyler BozakPhil Kessel

Leo KomarovNazem KadriMike Santorelli

Joffrey LupulPeter HollandDavid Clarkson

Daniel WinnikTrevor SmithDavid Booth

Cody FransonDion Phaneuf

Jake GardinerStephane Robidas

Morgan RiellyKorbinian Holzer

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Scratched: Richard Panik

Injured: None

Status report: The Maple Leafs are expected to go with the same lines and defensive pairing as they used in the loss to Pittsburgh. … Green has not played the past two games, but could play Saturday. The Capitals also recalled Steve Oleksy from the American Hockey League on Saturday.

Who's hot: Bozak has scored shorthanded goals in back-to-back games. Komarov registered his first multigoal game with two against Pittsburgh. … Ovechkin has three goals in his past two games. Backstrom is riding a four-game point streak with a goal and five assists. Niskanen had three assists against the Islanders.

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