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Maple Leafs know Capitals out to finish series

Toronto facing elimination in Game 6 on Sunday

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

TORONTO -- Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said he understands why Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz wants to push his team "off a cliff" in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference First Round series on Sunday at Air Canada Centre (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, CSN-DC). He would feel the same way.

"The way I say it, when you have someone down and you have a chance to step on them, you step on them or they might get up and kill you," Babcock said Saturday with the Maple Leafs trailing the best-of-7 series 3-2. "I agree with him 100 percent. But we're in the same thing here: If we don't win we go home, there should be no more desperate team than us. We're all aware and understand that fully."

On Saturday, Trotz, speaking in Washington about Game 6, said, "You get an opportunity to push someone off a cliff, you need to push them off if you can."


[RELATED: Complete Maple Leafs vs. Capitals series coverage]


It's a familiar position for Maple Leafs forward Matt Martin. Last season, Martin was a member of the New York Islanders, who took a 3-2 lead into Game 6 of their first-round series against the Florida Panthers. The Islanders closed it out at home with a double-overtime win. So he knows what Trotz is thinking, though he jokingly said he would reconsider any recreational plans with the Capitals coach.

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"It makes me not want to ever go hiking with him," Martin said. "Maybe it's a strong analogy but it makes sense. You don't want to ever let a team back in a series. I don't take offense to that in any way. That's their plan. Our plan is to stay alive and hopefully push them off a cliff."

The Maple Leafs have plenty of reasons to believe they can come back. Through five games, the Capitals hold a 16-15 edge in goals, with each team taking 175 shots. Four of the five games have ended in overtime. Every game has been decided by one goal.

"[Our confidence] has grown a lot," Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly said. "We've proven to ourselves that we're right there with those guys. We've beat them twice and we've gone to OT four times now. We're right there. As a group, we feel confident in the fact that we can go out there, play our game, play with speed and give ourselves a chance to win."

Babcock showed how confident he was in the Maple Leafs after Game 5 on Friday, when he was heard telling workers at Verizon Center in Washington he would see them for Game 7.

"Well, they were being nice to me on the way out saying, 'Have a good year,'" Babcock said. "I said, 'No, see you in a couple of days.' In my mind and in my heart, that's what I know is going to happen."

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