Capitals look to put away the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs

Friday, January 15, 2010; D05

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Verizon Center.

Records: Capitals 28-12-6, 62 points (first in Southeast); Maple Leafs 16-23-9, 41 points (fifth in Northeast).

TV: Comcast SportsNet.

Radio: WFED 820 AM, 1500 AM.

Goalie concerns: The Capitals are coming off consecutive road games in which their goaltending was spotty. In Tuesday night's 7-4 loss to Tampa Bay, Michal Neuvirth started in net and was pulled after a first period in which he surrendered four goals on 15 shots. José Theodore came in to start the second period and yielded three goals on 21 shots. The following night in a 5-4 shootout victory over Florida, Neuvirth started but was pulled again after giving up four goals on 15 shots.

"He had a bump in the road," Coach Bruce Boudreau said of Neuvirth, 21, during a telephone interview on Wednesday. "Young guys have bumps in the road. It's just more noticeable if you're a goalie."

Boudreau said he pulled Neuvirth against Tampa Bay not because he felt he had played especially poorly but rather "to give the team a lift.

"So am I worried about the goaltending? No," Boudreau added.

The Capitals, meantime, continue to await the return of top goalie Semyon Varlamov (12-1-2, 2.21 goals against average) who is "day to day," according to Boudreau, after spraining his right knee during a rehabilitation start in Hershey on Jan. 3.

"Every day it's getting better," Boudreau said.

Chimera contributes: The Capitals got a key goal from Jason Chimera in their comeback win against the Panthers. With Florida up 2-0, Chimera scored unassisted 18 seconds into the second period. It was his second goal since joining the Capitals in a Dec. 28 trade from Columbus.

Alex Ovechkin also scored a clutch goal, this time 27 seconds into the third period, to cut the Panthers' lead to 4-3. Ovechkin had missed all three previous games this season against Florida, twice because of injury and once because of suspension.

Scouting Toronto: The Maple Leafs have lost four straight games, including a 4-2 defeat against Carolina on Tuesday, but Boudreau said he was mystified as to the reasons.

"I don't know how they keep losing," he said. "They play very hard. They lead the league in shots on goal. They just haven't had success recently. I just hope they don't have success on Friday."

Maple Leafs Coach Ron Wilson held the same post in Washington from 1997 to 2002, and led the Capitals to their only Stanley Cup appearance in 1998.

-- Gene Wang

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