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Maple Leafs try to end slump as they visit Capitals

by Sean McCullen

MAPLE LEAFS (21-19-5) at CAPITALS (21-16-6)


Last 10: Toronto 4-4-2; Washington 3-4-3

Season series: This is the second of three games between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals. Toronto won 2-1 in a shootout at Air Canada Centre on Nov. 21.

Big story: Expect plenty of pucks fired on net at each end of the ice; the Capitals and Maple Leafs are 29th and 30th, respectively, in the NHL in shots against per game. The Capitals fired 50 shots on Toronto goalie James Reimer in the teams' first game.

Both clubs have been struggling. The Capitals have lost six of eight games, and the Maple Leafs have lost three straight since their Winter Classic shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings, allowing 18 goals during the skid.

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs: Not only have the Maple Leafs allowed a lot of goals during their three-game losing streak, but they've scored just five. Toronto lost 7-1 to the New York Rangers on Saturday and 5-3 to the New York Islanders on Tuesday, each on home ice.

They didn't fare any better on the road Thursday night, when they were routed 6-1 by the Carolina Hurricanes.

"Right now we are getting a performance that isn't anywhere close to what is required to give ourselves success," coach Randy Carlyle said. "Our goaltenders are strung out and left hanging high and dry from the quality scoring chances, and they are coming from that critical area. We can't continue to give those chances up."

The Maple Leafs are allowing a League-high 36.4 shots per game; Washington is next at 34.3.

Jonathan Bernier will likely be in goal for the Maple Leafs after Reimer took the loss at Carolina, allowing six goals on 36 shots.

The Maple Leafs will play three of four games at Air Canada Center following the game in Washington.

Capitals: Washington snapped a four-game losing streak (0-2-2) with a 4-3 road win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night. Eric Fehr scored twice in the game; he got the Capitals' first goal and then scored the game-winner with 51.5 seconds left in regulation.

"It wasn't the prettiest way to win," Fehr said. "But scoring in the last minute - the team really rallied and hopefully we can carry the momentum forward."

The Capitals play their next three games at Verizon Center. They host the Buffalo Sabres on Jan. 12 and the San Jose Sharks on Jan. 14.

Who's hot: Maple Leafs left wing Joffrey Lupul has scored a goal each of the past three games. Center Tyler Bozak, who had his point streak halted at eight games in Carolina, has three goals and eight assists over his past nine games. … Capitals center Marcus Johansson has two goals and two assists the past three games. Defenseman Mike Green has three goals and two assists the past six games.

Injury report: Toronto forwards Dave Bolland (ankle) and Trevor Smith (hand) are on injured reserve. Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson (upper body) and forward David Clarkson (foot) returned to the lineup Thursday after sitting out Tuesday against the Islanders. … Washington forward Michael Latta (lower body) and defenseman Jack Hillen (fractured tibial plateau) are out.

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