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5 Keys: Capitals at Maple Leafs, Game 3

Washington defenseman Karl Alzner game-time decision; Nikita Zaitsev returns to Toronto lineup

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent


7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports 2, CSN-DC

Best-of-7 series is tied 1-1

After splitting the first two games at Verizon Center, the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs resume their Eastern Conference First Round series at Air Canada Centre on Monday.

The Maple Leafs tied the series when Kasperi Kapanen scored 11:53 into the second overtime for a 4-3 win Saturday. Kapanen became the first Maple Leafs player to score an overtime goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since Travis Green's double-OT goal in Game 6 of the 2003 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Game 3 will be the first playoff game in Toronto since May 12, 2013, when the Maple Leafs defeated the Boston Bruins 2-1 in Game 6 of their first-round series.

Here are 5 keys for Game 3:


1. Karl Alzner's streak in question, Nikita Zaitsev returns

Alzner missed the morning skate for maintenance and will be a game-time decision. The Capitals defenseman has played 540 consecutive regular-season games since Oct. 8, 2010, the fifth-longest active streak in the NHL, and 59 straight playoff games.

"Karl's an important player," defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "He defends really well, especially down low around the net. He's important on our penalty kill. He's a good player for us."

Video: VAN@WSH: Alzner blasts puck by Miller to pad lead

Zaitsev is back after missing the first two games of the series because of an upper-body injury. The Maple Leafs defenseman played all 82 regular-season games.

"It's nice to get Zaitsev back, it's an opportunity for him," coach Mike Babcock said. "He's been a real good player for us all year. He's ultra-competitive, he moves the puck. He plays on the power play, the penalty kill. He's an important guy for us."


2. Improved even-strength production

The Capitals have six goals in the first two games, but three have come on the power play. Forward Alex Ovechkin said more emphasis is needed on obstructing Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen's view.

"We have to make more traffic in front of the goalie because we didn't go a lot in the middle of the ice in front of the net," Ovechkin said. "We know we can be better in the offensive zone."


3. Auston Matthews must get going

Matthews' 40 regular-season goals were a Maple Leafs rookie record and tied for second in the League behind Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby's 44. However, Matthews does not have a point in the series.

Video: TOR@DET: Matthews uses quick hands to bury PPG


4. Fourth-line production

In Game 1, Capitals fourth-line right wing Tom Wilson scored in overtime to give them a 3-2 win. Toronto's fourth line responded in Game 2 when Kapanen scored twice, including in overtime, and Brian Boyle and Matt Martin each had two assists.

Martin had nine points (five goals, four assists) in 82 regular-season games, and Boyle had three assists in 21 games after being acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 27.

"We want to obviously contribute more than we did in the regular season and be a big factor in the playoffs," Martin said. "Seeing [Kapanen] get two goals was pretty special and hopefully we'll continue to play some strong hockey. Most of all it's playing with energy, being physical and having heavy shifts. That's how we got both of our goals and we need to continue to play that way."

 Video: TOR@WSH, Gm2: Kapanen talks about his game-winner


5. Stay out of the penalty box

The Washington power play has been lethal through the first two games, scoring three times on eight opportunities (37.5 percent) to lead the League. Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman, a key penalty-killer, said the best way to contain the Capitals power play is to not give them opportunities.

"They're a great team, they have great players, great offensive weapons," he said. "If you give them chances, they're going to be able to put it in the net. Calls are going to be made. It's tough but we have to be a little bit more disciplined, for sure."


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Justin Williams

Brett Connolly -- Lars Eller -- Andre Burakovsky

Daniel Winnik -- Jay Beagle -- Tom Wilson

Nate Schmidt -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Paul Carey, Taylor Chorney

Injured: Karl Alzner (undisclosed)


Maple Leafs projected lineup

James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Mitchell Marner

Leo Komarov -- Nazem Kadri -- Connor Brown

Zach Hyman -- Auston Matthews -- William Nylander

Matt Martin -- Brian Boyle -- Kasperi Kapanen

Matt Hunwick -- Morgan Rielly

Jake Gardiner -- Nikita Zaitsev

Martin Marincin -- Connor Carrick

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Alexey Marchenko, Ben Smith, Josh Leivo

Injured: Roman Polak (lower body), Eric Fehr (hand/arm), Nikita Soshnikov (undisclosed)


Status report

If Alzner cannot play, Schmidt will appear in his first game since April 9. "He's a really good player," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "We're real fortunate to have a guy that's played in our top six all year who got bumped down to seven."… Fehr participated in the morning skate but will not play.


Who's hot

Williams has three points (two goals, one assist) during a two-game point streak. Oshie has two assists during a two-game point streak. … Van Riemsdyk has two points (one goal, one assist) during a two-game point streak.

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