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Caps, Leafs tangle in Toronto

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Capitals hope to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the season when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs for Saturday's encounter at Air Canada Centre.

The Capitals recently lost the last two games of a three-game homestand in regulation. The consecutive setbacks came on the heels of a three-game winning streak, but a loss on Saturday would give Washington its longest slide since an 0-3-0 stretch from Oct. 5-10.

After getting dealt a lopsided 4-0 loss by Pittsburgh on Wednesday, the Capitals dropped a 3-2 decision Friday against Montreal. The Canadiens jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period and that would prove to be enough offense to subdue the Capitals.

"We have to have better starts. We can't expect to win games if we're down 3-0," said Capitals forward Troy Brouwer.

Travis Moen, David Desharnais and Daniel Briere scored in a 4:47 span in the first period for Montreal, while Alex Ovechkin tallied his NHL-leading 18th and 19th goals of the season for the Capitals. Ovechkin has 25 goals in 30 career games versus Toronto.

Caps goaltender Michal Neuvirth settled down after the rough opening frame to post 28 saves. Braden Holtby will get the start in net Saturday for Washington. He is 2-0 with a 1.00 goals against average in two career outings against the Leafs.

The Maple Leafs will try to get back in the win column Saturday after losing for the first time on a five-game homestand in Thursday's setback against Nashville.

Toronto opened the residency with consecutive wins over Buffalo and the New York Islanders before dropping a 4-2 decision against the Predators. Thursday's defeat also was the first home loss for the Leafs since they were dealt a 3-2 regulation decision by Carolina on Oct. 17.

Jonathan Bernier allowed all four goals on 28 shots in the loss to Nashville, dropping the goaltender to 5-3-0 on home ice this season. James Reimer expects to get the start on Saturday and is 1-2-1 with a 2.97 GAA in four career games versus Washington.

Peter Holland and Nazem Kadri scored one goal apiece for the Maple Leafs, who took a 1-0 lead on Thursday before allowing the Preds to score four unanswered goals.

"We were flat after the first period. We didn't seem to have any energy, we didn't seem to have any enthusiasm," head coach Randy Carlyle said. "It just seemed like the game turned, and then we couldn't get it back."

The Leafs, who still boast an impressive 8-3-0 record at home this season, will complete this homestand in Monday's meeting against Columbus.

Washington has won four of the past six meetings against the Maple Leafs, but Toronto has claimed two of the last three encounters at Air Canada Centre.

11/23 11:12:42 ET