Maple Leafs-Capitals Preview
While the Washington Capitals continue to surge, they might have received a wake-up call in their last contest.
Looking to remain undefeated in April with an eighth consecutive victory, the Capitals try to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.
Washington (23-17-2) scored five goals in less than 1 1/2 periods Saturday at home against Tampa Bay, but gave up a 5-1 lead before winning 6-5 on defenseman Mike Green's tally at 2:59 of overtime.
The Capitals have scored 27 goals while going 7-0-0 in April and have a four-point lead over Winnipeg for first place in the Southeast Division. However, the Capitals learned they can't take anything for granted Saturday.
"It's good lessons right now for us,'' said Washington's Alex Ovechkin, the league leader with 27 goals. "I hope for next time when we get lead like that we're not going to stop playing.''
With six games remaining and the possibility only the Southeast winner makes the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, the Capitals would like to leave their latest experience in the past for good.
"This game's put away, but we have to learn from this," Green told the Capitals' official website. "We can't let situations like that happen."
As Washington tries to win eight straight overall for the first time since a nine-game run Feb. 26-March 15, 2011, and a season-high fifth in a row at home, it looks to avoid its first season sweep to Toronto since 2002-03. The Capitals dropped the first two meetings this season by matching 3-2 scores.
Ovechkin, who has 17 goals and seven assists in 15 games, has a goal with an assist against the Maple Leafs (24-13-5) in 2013.
Washington has converted 27.3 percent (15 for 55) of its power-play chances in those 15 contests, but Toronto ranks among the NHL leaders killing 88.0 percent of its penalties. The Maple Leafs have killed 26 of 26 while winning five of seven.
Fifth in the East and likely headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2004, the Maple Leafs have earned at least one point in five straight games (4-0-1) and are in the midst of a 9-1-4 stretch.
"We didn't play anywhere near to what our expectations were but there's the old adage of hockey - you don't critique a win,'' Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. "Good teams find ways to win hockey games. I thought we didn't really have our work boots on, we got outcompeted early in the game, but our goaltender stole us a hockey game.''
Reimer, who has stopped 68 of 69 shots in the last two contests, snapped a personal three-game skid against the Capitals when he made 20 saves on Jan. 31.
Kessel has scored in four straight games, posting six goals and two assists during that span. He has no goals but three assists versus Washington this season.
It's uncertain if Toronto forward Joffrey Lupul will miss a sixth straight game because of a concussion.