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The Leafs travel to Washington to once again attempt to return to their winning ways when they take on Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals on Friday night.

Toronto not only lost their previous game to the Buffalo Sabres in a highscoring affair (7-4), but they also lost ground on the league leaders. Buffalo is now 9 points up on Toronto for the League and Northeast Division lead with 37 (Toronto with 28), and still hold a game in hand of the Leafs.

Leaf Coach Paul Maurice saw the game as a positive in where the Leafs were heading, and applauded their effort after the loss to what he saw is one of the best teams in the league:

Paul Maurice said:
''I liked that game a hell of a lot more than I liked the Islander game. Just for what we're all here to do - get down, compete, come back. A little life out there, a little jump.

''Listen, we're playing one of the best teams in the NHL. I thought it was a really exciting game.''
The Leafs led the game 2-0 after 3 5-on-3 powerplays against the Sabres on Darcy Tucker's league leading 12th powerplay goal and a goal by kyle Wellwood. However, Buffalo scored 4 unanswered goals, until O'Neill added one courtesy of Sabres rookie Michael Ryan who put the puck in his own net. Tucker then added his second of the game in the 3rd to tie it.

However, Leaf Goaltender Andrew Raycroft's error late in the 3rd gave buffalo the lead, for good.

Andrew Raycroft said:
''I didn't make the best decision obviously. Bad timing, but that's why we play hockey.

''It's a game of mistakes.''
And the leafs made many of them in the defencive zone, most notable Jiri Novotny's goal to tie the game at two a piece in the 1st.

Even after the loss, the former Calder Trophy Winner Andrew Raycroft currently has a 2.85 Goals Against Average and .907 Save Percentage

Buffalo Captain Daniel Briere sealed the win on a shorthanded empty-netter, and Chris Drury added another shortly afterwards.

Leaf d-man Pavel Kubina, who struggled much defencively throughout the game, had 5 shots on goal.

Tomas Kaberle had 3 assists to lead the team in points and the league in points by a defenceman with 22 in 23 games played.

Darcy Tucker has 15 goals in 15 games played, and is on pace for another career year, while sophomore Kyle Wellwood is also on pace for a career season, with 16 assists.

Toronto is 12-74 through 23 games.


The Washington Capitals are also coming off of a loss, after going down 4-2 to the Southeast Division leading Atlanta Thrashers Wednesday.

At the end of the game, a scuffled was involved, and with it came suspension to Capitals Donald Brashear, and Brian Sutherby, while Scott Mellanby of the Panthers was also suspended:

Related Topic: http://www.hockeyforum.com/washington-capitals/4241-brashear-sutherby-mellanby-suspended.html

Current Calder Trophy winner, Alexander Ovechkin, leads the team in goals (13) and Points (23), while defenceman Brian Pothier had 12 assists.

Games against the Capitals and Leafs are usually a close battle close between the two clubs.

Leaf Forward, Alexei Ponikarovsky, is well aware of the competition Washington brings to Toronto.

Alexei Ponikarovsky said:
"There are no easy nights. There are no easy teams."
Related Topic: http://www.hockeyforum.com/toronto-maple-leafs/4247-ponikarovsky-preaches-patience.html#post16614

Washington is 8-7-6 after 21 Games.

Brian Boucher posts a 2.71 Goals Against Average, and a .921 Save Percentage, and is taking much of the load for struggling 36 year old Goaltender Olaf Kolzig. Kolzig has a high 3.07 Goals Against Average, but a respectable .912 Save Percetage.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
They killed them.

A game like this should have them sharper in tonight's game against the Bruins.

Mats Sundin will probably be making his return. They beter not tone down their game and leave him to carry them.

I' really concerned about Alex Steen though. 1 goal, and almost 20 games in? I guess it's just a case of the sopomore slump, because he's much better than that.
 
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