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Kessel and Leafs visit struggling Capitals

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The Sports Network
12/6/2010 11:27:19 AM
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(Sports Network) - The Toronto Maple Leafs ended a four-game losing streak their last time out and will now try to extend Washington's current funk when they visit the Capitals tonight at Verizon Center.

After notching a shootout victory over visiting Boston on Saturday, the Maple Leafs will try this evening to win consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 16-18.

The Capitals, meanwhile, have lost two in a row and the Southeast Division leaders will try to avoid just their second three-game slide of the year. Washington, which has dropped both games in regulation during the current skid, went 0-2-1 from Nov. 19-22.

However, Washington still enters today with 38 points, tying the Caps with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for the most points in the Eastern Conference. Toronto, on the other hand, is tied with Florida for 12th in the East with 22 points.

The Maple Leafs notched a 3-2 victory over Boston on Saturday as former Bruin Phil Kessel notched the winner in the shootout. Kessel began the third and final round by firing between the pads of Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, and the force of the shot carried Thomas into the net and the puck over the goal line.

Michael Ryder then clanged his shot off the left post to end the game.

Carl Gunnarsson scored and Kris Versteeg tallied inside the final minute of regulation for the Maple Leafs. Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 25 saves to register his first victory since November 16.

"This one hopefully gets us out of the hole we've been in," said Kessel. "It was a big one."

The Maple Leafs have an awful 2-7-1 road record this year and have lost eight in a row away from Toronto. Toronto's last road victory came against the New York Rangers on Oct. 15.

The Capitals have a stellar 12-2-1 record as the host this year, but they were dealt a home loss Saturday by Atlanta. Ondrej Pavelec turned aside 45 shots to lead the Thrashers to the 3-1 victory in D.C.

Alex Ovechkin scored the lone goal for Washington, while Semyon Varlamov was charged with all three goals on 33 shots for the Capitals.

"We didn't get very many second shots on Pavelec tonight," said Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau. "You can take 100 perimeter shots and it looks great on the stats, but if you're not fighting to get in front and get those rebounds then you're not going to win."

The Caps will try to bounce back tonight in the second test of a four-game homestand.

Ovechkin scored the winner in a shootout victory over the Leafs when they clubs met back in D.C. on Nov. 3. Washington has won five of nine in the series overall, while Toronto has lost three straight, four of five and six of its last eight at the Verizon Center.

Phil Kessel and Tom Poti (Photo: Abelimages/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Abelimages/Getty Images)
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