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Game 8 Preview: Maple Leafs vs Capitals

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Leafs look to keep the momentum going in Washington.

NHL: Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals: 7:00pm

Watch on: Sportsnet

Opponent’s site: Japers’ Rink

After successfully taking advantage of a tired Wild team at home last night, tonight is the Leafs’ turn to be the team on the road as they face the Washington Capitals for the first time this season.

Maple Leaf Lines

Forwards

Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Kasperi Kapanen - John Tavares - Mitchell Marner
Ilya Mikheyev - Alexander Kerfoot - Trevor Moore
Dmytro Timashov - Nick Shore - Frederik Gauthier
Scratched: Nic Petan - Jason Spezza
Injured: Zach Hyman

Defense

Morgan Rielly - Cody Ceci
Jake Muzzin - Tyson Barrie
Martin Marincin - Justin Holl
Scratched: Kevin Gravel
Injured: Travis Dermott

Goalies

Michael Hutchinson
Frederik Andersen

Tonight’s game is the second of four back-to-backs the Leafs play in October, which’ll be a good test of whether or not they can keep their energy up at least.

Kapanen is back on the Tavares line after being replaced mid-game last night by Moore. That line performed well with the addition of Moore, with Tavares and Marner combining for four points, so that will hopefully have helped shake the cobwebs off of both Tavares and Marner for good. Marner finally recorded his first five-on-five point of the year last night, so it’s certainly fair to continue to expect more from that line going forward.

Hutchinson will be in net tonight, something that will require the team to tighten up defensively to give their backup as much support as possible. We’ll see how that goes.

Washington Capitals Lines

From yesterday’s practice

Forwards

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Lars Eller - Garnet Hathaway
Brendan Leipsic - Chandler Stephenson - Richard Panik

Defense

Jonas Siegenthaler - John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov - Nick Jensen
Radko Gudas - Tyler Lewington
Injured: Michal Kempny

Goalies

Ilya Samsonov
Braden Holtby

The Washington Capitals are still looking to net their first win on home ice tonight, after falling 6-3 to the Colorado Avalanche Monday night in the first of a three-game homestand. Among a host of changes following Monday’s game, the team is starting with rookie Ilya Samsonov in net against the Leafs. While Braden Holtby hasn’t had the best start to his season — the Capital’s starter was pulled in the first period of Monday’s game — Samsonov has looked great, winning both of the games he’s started this year (admittedly, a very small sample size).

Capitals coach Todd Reirden shuffled the forward lines in-game during Monday night’s loss, and again at practice Tuesday, looking to improve the team’s performance at five-on-five (they’ve been outscored 16-11 to start the year). That number looks even worse when they’re up a goal, which, given the Leafs’ propensity for giving up the first goal in a game, actually bodes quite well for them. However, the Capitals will be facing the Leafs with completely different forward lines from the ones who lost to the Avalanche, though their defensive pairings remain the same.

Ovechkin has been looking like Ovechkin so, as always, the Leafs will have to keep a close eye on him. Happily, the Capitals don’t have any rookies looking for their first goal.


UPDATE: