Maple Leafs-Capitals Preview

The Associated Press

The Toronto Maple Leafs' Winter Classic victory was their season high-tying third straight win, but their success around the holidays hasn't continued.

The Maple Leafs look to avoid a fourth consecutive loss Friday night when they visit the Washington Capitals.

After beating Detroit on New Year's Day to earn a point in a sixth straight game, Toronto has been outscored 18-5 in its last three contests following a 6-1 loss in Carolina on Thursday.

The Leafs (21-19-5) have given up four power-play goals in 10 chances during their skid and been outshot 111-78.

"For whatever reason, nobody seems to have an answer to it right now, is that we are standing still and watching teams skate," coach Randy Carlyle said. "The last three games specifically have been an exclamation point for us on doing a lot of the same things consistently.

"Believe me, there's a lot of things that have taken place, but right now it's about performance on the ice and we are not getting the performance that's anywhere close to what's required to find success."

Toronto hasn't had any success on the power play lately, going 3 for 28 (10.7 percent) over its last 10 games, and its penalty kill has been an issue all season. The Leafs have surrendered 284 shots while short-handed, 14 more than the next-worse team - the Capitals with 270.

That could be trouble against a Washington team that converts a league-best 26.1 percent of the time with the man advantage. Mikhail Grabovski and Marcus Johansson scored the Capitals' 39th and 40th power-play goals of the season in the first period Thursday at Tampa Bay, then Eric Fehr's tiebreaking tally with 51.5 seconds left gave Washington a 4-3 win.

The Caps (21-16-6) snapped a four-game losing streak that included blown leads in their three most recent defeats.

"These are the kind of games that can be momentum builders for you," said Fehr, who had his first multi-goal game of the season. "It wasn't the prettiest way to win it, but scoring in the last couple of minutes, you could see the excitement on the bench. Hopefully we can carry that into (the game against the Maple Leafs)."

The power play has played a big role in Washington's recent home success versus Toronto. The Capitals have gone 7-2-1 in their last 10 against the Leafs at the Verizon Center, going a remarkable 15 for 36 (41.7 percent) on the power play.

Alex Ovechkin had a hand in eight of those tallies with the man advantage (seven assists) and totaled six goals and 17 assists while playing in nine of those contests.

Toronto is 3 for 34 (8.8 percent) on the power play in its last 10 in the nation's capital.

Ovechkin scored late in regulation at the Air Canada Centre on Nov. 23 to tie the Leafs at 1, but Joffrey Lupul and James van Riemsdyk scored in the shootout to lift to a Toronto 2-1 win.

James Reimer made a career high-tying 49 stops to earn the victory.

Phil Kessel, who leads the Leafs with 20 goals, hasn't scored one in his last six against Washington, though he's posted three assists.

Kessel hasn't scored in his last four games, dropping Toronto to 10-17-3 this season when he fails to find the back of the net.

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