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.

James Reimer made 32 saves and Phil Kessel snapped a scoreless

tie in the third for Toronto’s second straight victory, 2-0 over

New Jersey on Monday despite matching a season low with 13

shots.

“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.