Series (Game 4 of 4)

Washington leads 3-1

Game 1: Saturday, November 19th
Maple Leafs7
Game 2: Friday, December 9th
Maple Leafs2Final
Game 3: Saturday, February 25th
Maple Leafs2
Game 4: Sunday, March 11th
Maple Leafs0Final

Maple Leafs 0

(30-31-8, 68 pts)

Capitals 2

(35-28-6, 76 pts)

Coverage: RIS

5:00 PM ET, March 11, 2012

Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia

1 2 3 T
TOR 0 0 00
WSH 1 0 12

M. Neuvirth (Capitals - G): Saves: 23, Save Pct.: 1.000

B. Laich (Capitals - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

M. Perreault (Capitals - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Maple Leafs-Capitals Preview


Back-to-back victories have the Washington Capitals in position to take over first place in the Southeast Division.

The streaky Capitals look to continue their current run of success with a third straight win Sunday as they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Since Feb. 18, Washington (34-28-6) has lost three straight, won three in a row, then dropped another three before winning its last two contests. Though that kind of inconsistency can be frustrating, the Capitals are only one point behind first-place Florida in the Southeast.

Washington currently owns the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but can take over sole possession of the division lead and third place in the East if it beats Toronto and the Panthers lose in regulation to Carolina on Sunday.

The Capitals moved into their current position Saturday with a 4-3 win at Boston.

"We've just got to approach the games, just focus on today," forward Brooks Laich told the Capitals' official website. "I'm happy with the guys. We'll get back and then do it again (Sunday)."

Alexander Semin had a goal with an assist Saturday while Laich added the eventual game-winner on Washington's first power-play goal in eight games to help the Capitals come out ahead despite blowing a 2-0 lead.

"The guys just kept pushing," coach Dale Hunter said.

Washington now looks to continue its push on a brief stop home before embarking on a five-game road trip against the New York Islanders, Winnipeg, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia.

The Capitals have won the last two meetings with Toronto following a 7-1 road loss to the Leafs on Nov. 19, and are 4-0-1 at home in this series since a 2-1 regulation defeat March 5, 2009.

Alex Ovechkin has a goal and an assist in his last two games after being held without a point in his previous three. He has nine goals and 13 assists in 12 career home contests against the Maple Leafs (30-30-7), who are trying to avoid a fourth consecutive loss overall.

Toronto's 210 goals allowed this season rank near the bottom of the NHL, but the Maple Leafs put forth a rare solid defensive effort during a 1-0 shootout loss to Philadelphia on Saturday. Jonas Gustavsson made 27 saves for Toronto, which has dropped 13 of 15 and fell to 1-2-1 since Randy Carlyle replaced the fired Ron Wilson as coach.

Despite the outcome, Toronto players gained some confidence with their latest performance.

"It felt like we took one step in the right direction," Gustavsson said.

Gustavsson has compiled a 2.40 goals-against average while winning his last two starts versus Washington.

"We said that we were going to go with the goalie that gives us the best chance to win and he pitched a shutout," Carlyle said. "We can't ignore the fact that he was pretty outstanding for us in the hockey game."

Toronto All-Star Phil Kessel has three goals and eight assists in his last nine road games, and two with an assist overall versus Washington this season.