Washington at Toronto Preview: Capitals’ Season-Long Road Trip Starts In Toronto For First Of Two Meetings With Maple Leafs In 10 Days

Photo: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday for the second meeting of the season between the two teams and the first of a pair in a span of 10 days.

The Maple Leafs won the series opener at Capital One Arena by a score of 5-3 on February 28 but the Capitals have won their past two games and six of their last eight (including Stanley Cup Playoffs) at Scotiabank Arena, where they have not played since October 29, 2019.

Action from across the border can be seen on NBC Sports Washington locally or ESPN+ for those out-of-market.

Schedule

The Capitals begin a season-long five-game road trip (at Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, and Arizona Coyotes) in Toronto.

The Maple Leafs conclude a three-game homestand where they have split the first two games following a 5-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday and continue a stretch where they will play five of six at home.

Records

Capitals: 22-7-4 on road (first in NHL), five straight road wins, 6-0-1 during seven-game road point-streak, 11-2-1 in their past 14 road games

Maple Leafs: 26-8-2 at home (fifth), six-game winning- and eight-game point-streaks (7-0-1) at Scotiabank Arena snapped on Tuesday

How Each Team Is Doing

Capitals: four-game winning-streak and 13-4-1 since dropping first meeting of the season against Toronto

Maple Leafs: 7-0-1 in previous eight games before losing to the Sabres and 15-6-2 since losing three straight and five of seven in mid-February

Standings

Capitals: Second wild-card in Eastern Conference, fourth in Metropolitan Division with 92 points and .630 points percentage, respectively; three points behind Boston Bruins (with each team down to nine games remaining) for first wild-card spot and Pittsburgh Penguins (with two games in hand) for third in Metropolitan

Maple Leafs: Second in Atlantic Division and third in Eastern Conference with 100 points and .685 points percentage, respectively; four points ahead of Tampa Bay Lightning (with each team down to nine games left) and five ahead of Bruins (with each team down to nine games left) for second but 10 points behind Florida Panthers (with each team down to nine games left) for first; clinched second straight Stanley Cup Playoff berth

Team Leaders

Capitals

Points: LW Alex Ovechkin, 85 (Tied-13th in NHL)
Goals: Ovechkin, 46 (fourth)
Assists: D John Carlson, 50 (T-18th)
Plus-Minus: D Nick Jensen, +30 (T-15th)
TOI-per-game: D John Carlson, 23:46 per game (23rd)

Additional Notes: Ovechkin, 36, has four goals during a four-game goal-scoring streak, seven points during a five-game point-streak, and 17 goals and 27 points in 25 games since the NHL All-Star Break; Carlson, 32, has three goals and nine points over a four-game point-streak and 26 assists and 32 points in his past 29 games; C Evgeny Kuznetsov has six assists and seven points during a five-game point-streak and 16 assists and 24 points in his past 21; RW Tom Wilson has two goals and four points during a three-game point-streak and eight goals and 17 points over his last 19; LW Conor Sheary has a goal and four points over a three-game point-streak; C Nicklas Backstrom has three assists during a three-game assist-streak; C Lars Eller has three goals and four points over his past two; C Nic Dowd has three assists in his past three; LW Anthony Mantha has three helpers in his past two; D Martin Fehervary has three goals over his last four; LW Johan Larsson has collected a goal and three points in his past three

Maple Leafs

Points: C Auston Matthews, 99 (fifth)
Goals: Matthews, 58 (first)
Assists: RW Mitch Marner, 58 (eighth)
Plus-Minus: LW Michael Bunting, +24 (T-31st)
TOI-per-game: D Morgan Reilly, 23:54 (21st)

Additional Notes: Matthews, 24, has 51 goals over his previous 51 games and 21 goals and 31 points during a 16-game stretch where he got on the scoresheet before he did not vs. the Sabres; Marner, 24, has 58 assists and 89 points over his last 57 and tallied 20 assists and 28 points over a 13-game point-streak that ended Tuesday; Bunting, 26, has 25 assists and 38 points in his last 41; RW William Nylander has 13 helpers and 22 points over his last 21, including four goals and 10 points in his last seven; D Morgan Reilly has 43 assists and 50 points in his last 52, including four goals and 14 points in his last nine

Team Stats

The first graphic shows game averages for the Capitals and Maple Leafs entering Thursday. The Maple Leafs come in with the top power-play in the NHL and second-best offense. They also have the highest faceoff-winning percentage.

The second graphic lays out the possession metrics for the Capitals and Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs have the advantage in nearly every category until when it comes to goaltending.

Expected Starting Goaltenders

Capitals: Ilya Samsonov, 25
22-9-5 (21st in wins)
.899 save percentage
2.93 goals-against average
Three shutouts (tied for 11th)                                                                                           1-0-0, .857 save percentage, 4.50 goals-against average in two games vs. TOR, pulled after allowing three goals on first 10 shots in first period on 2/28

Maple Leafs: Erik Kallgren, 25
5-3-1
.899 save percentage
2.93 goals-against average
One shutout games                                                                                                        First career start vs. WSH

Injuries/Illnesses

Capitals

* LW Carl Hagelin (eye, will miss 18th straight game, out indefinitely)

* LW Joe Snively (lower-body, 18th, week-to-week)

* LHD Dmitry Orlov (lower-body, second, day-to-day)

Maple Leafs

* G Petr Mrazek (groin, eighth, week-to-week)

* RW Ondrej Kase (concussion, 12th, indefinite)

* D Rasmus Sandin (knee, 12th, week-to-week)

* D Jake Muzzin (undisclosed, second, day-to-day)

Projected Lineups

Capitals

Ovechkin — Kuznetsov — Conor Sheary
Marcus Johansson — Backstrom — T.J. Oshie
Mantha — Lars Eller — Wilson
Larsson — Dowd — Garnet Hathaway

Fehervary — Carlson
Trevor Van Riemsdyk— Jensen
Matt Irwin — Justin Schultz

Samsonov
Vitek Vanecek

Scratched: McMichael, LW Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, LHD Michal Kempny

Maple Leafs

Bunting – Matthews – Marner
Ilya Mikheyev – John Tavares – Alex Kerfoot
Nylander – David Kampf – Pierre Engvall
Wayne Simmons’s – Colin Blackwell – Jason Spezza

Rielly – Timothy Liljegren
T.J. Brodie – Justin Holl
Mark Giordano – Ilya Lyubushkin

Kallgren
Jack Campbell

Scratched: RW Sheldon Rempal, RHD Madison Bowey, LW Nick Abruzzese

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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