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Preview: Capitals at Maple Leafs

Nicklas Backstrom heating up for Washington; Auston Matthews looks to build off two-goal game for Toronto

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

CAPITALS (13-5-2) at MAPLE LEAFS (8-8-4)



Capitals team scope

The Washington Capitals are coming off a 3-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday and are 4-1-0 in their past five games. Goaltender Braden Holtby is expected to start after Philipp Grubauer made 32 saves against the Sabres. Holtby is 6-1-1 with a .948 save percentage in his career against the Maple Leafs. "History says teams aren't usually as strong on a back-to-back," Holtby said Saturday, "but I think we have a team that is pretty mentally strong that it shouldn't affect us throughout the course of the year. And based on the team, it's an exciting chance to play in Toronto any time you get, especially on a Saturday night." Center Nicklas Backstrom has nine points (four goals, five assists) in the past six games and leads the Capitals with 18 points (five goals, 13 assists). "I think you just stay with it, even though I didn't produce in the beginning," Backstrom said. "I started shooting a little bit more and if you work hard, good things happen to you and that's what I'm trying to do."


Maple Leafs team scope

The Toronto Maple Leafs are 0-2-1 in their past three games and will start goaltender Frederik Andersen, who is 2-2-0 in his past four starts despite giving up a total of seven goals in that span. Rookie center Auston Matthews went 13 straight games without a goal and had three assists during that stretch until he scored two goals against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday. "It feels very good [to score]," Matthews said. "It was basically the same areas I was getting all the opportunities before and I was able to capitalize on it. So I think it gave me a lot of confidence after going for a pretty long time without a goal. Hopefully we can keep that ball rolling." The Maple Leafs are 7-3-0 at Air Canada Centre this season and are hoping to keep the wins coming to stay in the playoff picture. "We're four points out after 20 games when I looked at the standings," coach Mike Babcock said. "You've got to find a way to win every night. You can't give up goals in the end and win. This next 20 [games] is going to tell us a lot about our team. We've got to be in the hunt after the next 20, so it's a big five-game segment for us right now."


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Andre Burakovsky

Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Justin Williams

Zach Sanford - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Daniel Winnik - Lars Eller - Brett Connolly

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Dmitry Orlov - John Carlson

Brooks Orpik - Nate Schmidt

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Taylor Chorney, Paul Carey

Injured: T.J. Oshie (upper body)


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 - Ben Smith - Nikita Soshnikov

Morgan Rielly - Nikita Zaitsev

Jake Gardiner - Connor Carrick

Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak

Frederik Andersen

Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Peter Holland, Frank Corrado, Martin Marincin

Injured: Josh Leivo (lower body)


Status report

The Capitals had an optional skate on Saturday. Chorney, Schmidt, Winnik, Sanford, Carey, Grubauer and Holtby were the only Washington players to participate.


Who's hot

Ovechkin has four goals and an assist during a three-game point streak. … Burakovsky has three assists in the past two games. … Kadri has a goal and an assist in his past two games. … during a two game point streak… Matthews has two goals and two assists in his past three games.

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