The Washington Capitals are back on the road and are looking to keep the momentum going and extend their winning streak to five heading into the postseason as they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs, who sit second in the Atlantic Division and have already clinched a playoff spot. However, the Capitals could be shorthanded again.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov did not skate on Thursday in Toronto. Kuznetsov is sick with a non-COVID illness, and Orlov is still dealing with a lower-body injury that held him out of Tuesday’s blowout 9-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Head coach Peter Laviolette said that he is unsure if either will lace ’em up against the Leafs.
The Capitals (41-22-10) sit three points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for third in the Metropolitan Division and are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games. Toronto, meanwhile, is 7-2-1 in its last 10 and sits comfortably in second place in the Atlantic Division.
If Kuznetsov sits, Connor McMichael would likely draw in on the forward lines at center. And given Matt Irwin’s strong game in place of Orlov on Tuesday, expect him to play if No. 9 can’t go.
Here were Tuesday’s lines:
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Conor Sheary
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Anthony Mantha-Lars Eller-Tom Wilson
Johan Larsson-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Martin Fehervary-John Carlson
Trevor van Riemsdyk-Nick Jensen
Matt Irwin-Justin Schultz
Meanwhile, Ilya Samsonov will make his fourth start in five games. He has won his last three starts and has started to find his rhythm again, which comes at the perfect time with Washington still looking for a clear No. 1 ahead of the playoffs. Samsonov has played in two career games against the Maple Leafs, posting a .857 save percentage and 4.50 GAA.
When it comes to players to watch, all eyes will be on Alex Ovechkin and Auston Matthews. Ovechkin has goals in four straight games and is four away from a record-setting ninth 50-goal campaign. Matthews leads the league with 58 goals and could become the first player since Steven Stamkos in 2011-12 to score 60-plus goals in a season. He has seven goals in his last five games overall.
Puck drop is at 7 p.m. at Scoitabank Arena.