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Preview: Capitals at Maple Leafs

Toronto will clinch playoff berth with victory, Lightning loss; Washington could win Presidents' Trophy

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

CAPITALS (52-18-8) at MAPLE LEAFS (39-24-15)

7:30 p.m. ET; TSN4, CSN-DC, NHL.TV


Capitals team scope

The Washington Capitals can clinch the Metropolitan Division title, Eastern Conference and Presidents' Trophy if they defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs in regulation or overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in any fashion. The Capitals, who are 8-1-1 in their past 10 games, could also clinch if they defeat the Maple Leafs in a shootout and the Blue Jackets defeat the Penguins in a shootout. However, coach Barry Trotz said the focus has never been on the Presidents' Trophy. "We haven't mentioned that once all year," Trotz said. "It was about finishing first in the Metro. It hasn't been in our vocabulary. It's been about being a better team, let's be a team that hopefully can take it to the next step." Goaltender Philipp Grubauer will start against the Maple Leafs. "They've really grown from the start of the year until now," Grubauer said. "You can see every line is dangerous and they have really skilled guys. If you don't pay attention, they can burn you fast." Forward Alex Ovechkin's next point will put him into sole possession of second place among Russian-born players on the NHL's all-time scoring list. He is tied with Alexander Mogilny with 1,032 points and is 147 behind Sergei Federov for first place.


Maple Leafs team scope

The Maple Leafs can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2013 if they defeat the Capitals in regulation or overtime and the Tampa Bay Lightning lose to the Boston Bruins in any fashion. The Maple Leafs, who have won four games in a row, can also clinch if they defeat the Capitals in a shootout and the Lightning lose to the Bruins in regulation. "We have the best fans in the world, we're very lucky to be here, we all feel very grateful to be able to wear the Maple Leaf. For us to clinch, it would be well deserved for our fan base," defenseman Morgan Rielly said. "It's been something we've wanted to do for a long time. We have an opportunity to do it here tonight but to be honest, the team doesn't talk about it that much. We just talk about winning games. We're going to go out tonight, try to do our job and win a game." Goaltender Curtis McElhinney will start the second of back-to-back games after Frederik Andersen made 20 saves in a 4-2 win at the Buffalo Sabres on Monday. "He's a great goaltender, I didn't see much panic in (our dressing room) when Freddie went down (last week)," defenseman Jake Gardiner said. "You've got to have two goaltenders and Curtis has been great for us all year." The Maple Leafs are 1-0-1 against the Capitals this season, winning 4-2 on Nov. 26 and losing 6-5 in overtime on Jan. 3.

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

Karl Alzner -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Philipp Grubauer

Braden Holtby

Scratched: Paul Carey, Taylor Chorney, Nate Schmidt

Injured: None


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

Morgan Rielly -- Connor Carrick

Jake Gardiner -- Nikita Zaitsev

Matt Hunwick -- Roman Polak

Curtis McElhinney

Frederik Andersen

Scratched: Martin Marincin, Alexey Marchenko, Ben Smith, Josh Leivo

Injured: Eric Fehr (hand/arm), Nikita Soshnikov (undisclosed)


Status report

The Maple Leafs did not hold a full morning skate. Andersen, Smith, Leivo, Marincin and Marchenko were the only players who took the ice. Soshnikov remains day to day.


Who's hot

Backstrom has 17 points (two goals, 15 assists) in his past 11 games. Oshie has five points (three goals, two assists) during a four-game point streak. Shattenkirk has 12 assists in his past 13 games. ... Van Riemsdyk has three goals during a three-game point streak. Nylander has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in his past 15 games. Matthews has six goals during a five-game goal streak and 12 points (eight goals, four assists) during a nine-game point streak. Kadri has five points (one goal, four assists) during a four-game point streak.

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