NHL Hockey

Capitals seek consistency as trip turns to Toronto

The Washington Capitals will continue their search for consistency Thursday night when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team they have yet to defeat this season.

The Maple Leafs defeated the Capitals 4-2 at Washington Oct. 13 and 6-3 Jan. 23 at Toronto.

The defending Stanley Cup champions have struggled with consistency all season, and their 2-2-0 record with two contests left on a six-game trip provides an example.

They lost the opener of the trip 3-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets, then defeated the surging San Jose Sharks 5-1. They lost to the struggling Anaheim Ducks 5-2 on Sunday and defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Monday, with Alex Ovechkin potting two power-play goals.

"There are going to be games you lose," Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "But, if you're playing consistently and doing the same thing over and over, there's going to be some nights you don't get the results but you're happy with the effort you put in. Right now, I think 'inconsistent' is a good word to describe it."

The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, lost 3-2 in overtime to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday to complete a 3-2-1 trip.

"I liked our road trip a lot," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said after falling in St. Louis. "I didn't like our game in Phoenix (a 2-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes). Other than that, I liked our game every night. I would have liked to have had a better first (period) here and, yet, you've got to give (the Blues) credit. They're a good team playing well (11 wins in a row)."

Ovechkin has four goals in his past three games and 42 for the season, easily tops in the NHL.

"No one said it was going to be an easy road trip," Ovechkin said after Monday's win in L.A. "It's always hard to play those teams. Obviously (Sunday) night we lost, and it was very important for us to bounce back."

There was confusion Wednesday at the Capitals practice before winger Devante Smith-Pelly went on waivers. Originally, winger Dmitrij Jaskin was to go on waivers, and he was not on the ice for practice. Smith-Pelly was on the ice to start practice, but left early.

"Right now, there is a lot of movement going on, especially for teams that are salary-capped strapped like we are," Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. "Earlier in the day, we had made the decision to put Jaskin on waivers, and we changed our mind and were notified during practice. We made that adjustment, and now Devante has been put on waivers."

Smith-Pelly scored seven goals during last year's playoff run, including one in each of the final three games.

Washington didn't wait long to add a player, sending a 2019 third-round pick and a 2020 conditional sixth-rounder to the Los Angeles Kings for Carl Hagelin on Thursday morning. Hagelin has two goals and six assists in 38 games this season with the Kings and Penguins. He is expected to make his debut Saturday at Buffalo.

Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs were happy to earn a point against the Blues on Tuesday, after overcoming a 2-0 deficit with two third-period goals that came just 31 seconds apart.

"They came out hard, obviously," said Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, who scored the tying goal. "They sent a message and had the puck the whole time, and we gave up two (goals). I think we can be proud of our effort all in all battling back there in the third and scoring two goals to force an overtime and get a point."

The Maple Leafs lost Nazem Kadri for the final two periods Tuesday because of a concussion after he took a hit in the first period. They did have Andreas Johnsson back Tuesday after he had missed one game with a leg injury.

--Field Level Media

Updated February 21, 2019

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NC State   12:00pm
Boston College  
Duke   3:30pm
North Carolina   3:30pm
Virginia Tech  
Carolina 2 F
Anaheim 4
Teams Score Time
Pittsburgh 27 F
Syracuse 20
Ohio State 52 F
Northwestern 3
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American League
Houston 1 F
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New York   8:08pm
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Philadelphia 93
Toronto 123 F
Brooklyn 107
Houston 144 F
Miami 133
New Orleans 117 F
New York 116
Memphis 91 F
San Antonio 104
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Golden State 124
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Pos # Name Start Pos
1 12 Ryan Blaney 9
2 6 Ryan Newman 13
3 11 Denny Hamlin 40
4 10 Aric Almirola 5
5 34 Michael McDowell 22
6 3 Austin Dillon 20
7 32 Corey Lajoie 33
8 9 Chase Elliott 1
9 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 7
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1 00 Cole Custer 3
2 7 Justin Allgaier 8
3 22 Austin Cindric 2
4 11 Justin Haley 11
5 98 Chase Briscoe 1
6 1 Michael Annett 16
7 9 Noah Gragson 7
8 23 John Hunter Nemechek 17
9 8 Zane Smith 10
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1 20 Spencer Boyd 25
2 4 Todd Gilliland 6
3 51 Riley Herbst 7
4 24 Brett Moffitt 8
5 52 Stewart Friesen 10
6 16 Austin Hill 13
7 17 Tyler Ankrum 2
8 88 Matt Crafton 1
9 2 Sheldon Creed 5