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Maple Leafs at Capitals preview

Toronto visits Washington for first time since losing first-round playoff series last season

by Brian McNally / NHL.com Correspondent

MAPLE LEAFS (4-1-0) at CAPITALS (3-2-1)

7 p.m. ET; NBCSWA, TSN4, NHL.TV

 

The Game

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals will play each other for the first time since the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs a series which Washington won in six games.

The Maple Leafs lead the NHL in goals per game (5.2), including a League-high eight on the power play. Their 30.8 success rate with the man advantage leads the League. Auston Matthews leads them in points (eight) and goals (five).

Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin leads the League with nine goals. Washington's penalty kill has allowed five goals in its past three games.

 

Players to watch

Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen was 9-3-3 with a .924 save percentage in 15 games against Metropolitan Division opponents last season.

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is tied for the NHL lead in points (11) with teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov and was named the NHL's Third Star of the Week after he had nine points (three goals, six assists) in four games.

 

They said it 

"Any way you look at it, they beat us, I think, in Games 4, 5 and 6 if I'm not mistaken. They in the end took over. We've got a long way to go and understand that." - Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on the playoff loss to the Capitals last season

"Maybe the schedule got to us. Maybe when they got the fifth and sixth goal it killed our will a little bit. They smelled blood, their home opener, and they kept on us. We've got to be better. We had too many holes in our defensive zone. It was like Swiss cheese." - Capitals coach Barry Trotz on rebounding from an 8-2 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday

 

Maple Leafs projected lineup

Zach Hyman -- Auston Matthews -- William Nylander

Patrick Marleau -- Nazem Kadri -- Leo Komarov

James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Connor Brown

Matt Martin -- Dominic Moore -- Mitch Marner

Morgan Rielly -- Ron Hainsey

Jake Gardiner -- Nikita Zaitsev

Calle Rosen -- Connor Carrick

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Eric Fehr, Josh Leivo

Injured: None

 

Capitals projected lineup

Andre Burakovsky -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Alex Ovechkin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Jakub Vrana

Brett Connolly -- Lars Eller - Tom Wilson

Nathan Walker -- Jay Beagle -- Devante Smith-Pelly

Dmitry Orlov -- Taylor Chorney

Christian Djoos -- John Carlson

Brooks Orpik -- Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Alex Chiasson, Tyler Graovac, Aaron Ness

Injured: Matt Niskanen (upper body)

 

Status report

Eller took part in the morning skate, but remains ill and is a game-time decision. Graovac will slot at third-line center if Eller can't play. … Niskanen will be out until at least Nov. 7 against the Buffalo Sabres. ... Marner was dropped to the fourth line and Brown was moved to the third line. 

 

Stat pack

Kuznetsov leads the NHL in assists (11) and became the first player to reach that mark through six games since San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton in 2012-13.

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