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Caps aim for consecutive wins in clash with Maple Leafs

The Washington Capitals will try to record consecutive wins for the first time under Dale Hunter, as they welcome the Toronto Maple Leafs for tonight's battle at the Verizon Center.

The Capitals are 2-3 since Hunter took over as head coach for the fired Bruce Boudreau. Washington lost its first two tests under its new bench boss, but has won two of its last three and is coming off Wednesday's 5-3 victory in Ottawa. Both of Hunter's victories have come against the Senators.

Tonight, Washington will try to record back-to-back wins for the first time since beating Phoenix and Winnipeg on Nov. 21 and 23, respectively. The Capitals will also try to exact a measure of revenge against the Maple Leafs after Washington was dealt a 7-1 rout in Toronto on Nov. 19.

The blowout win over the Caps was just Toronto's second win in the last six meetings between these clubs. The Caps and Leafs haven't met in D.C. in over a year, as Toronto ended a three-game skid in Washington with a shootout win on Dec. 6 of last season.

The Caps used four third-period goals to surge past the Senators on Wednesday night. John Carlson registered the last of Washington's goals on an empty net and also collected two assists to help the Capitals snap a five-game road losing streak.

Nicklas Backstrom supplied a power-play goal midway through the third while Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer tallied 15 seconds apart for Washington, which got 31 saves from Tomas Vokoun.

"We weathered it when they came hard and were able to release the pressure by getting pucks out," Brouwer said.

Ovechkin's goal was his ninth of the season and first since Nov. 25. He has just two goals over his last 13 games.

Washington defenseman Roman Hamrlik and forward Matt Hendricks are both questionable tonight with lower body injuries. Hamrlik has sat out the last four games, while Hendricks missed Wednesday's game.

The Caps are 9-4-1 on home ice this year and are beginning a two-game residency tonight. They will also host Philadelphia on Tuesday.

The Maple Leafs have lost three of four since a three-game winning streak and were dealt an overtime loss by New Jersey on Tuesday. David Clarkson scored 2:40 into the extra session to lift the visiting Devils to the 3-2 win at Air Canada Centre.

A flubbed shot in the New Jersey end resulted in Dainius Zubrus grabbing the puck and skating the other way. Entering the Toronto side from the right wing, he stopped along the mid-boards and spun around before firing a pass over to the left circle for Clarkson, who one-timed it past James Reimer for the win.

Phil Kessel and Matt Frattin each had a goal for the Maple Leafs, while Reimer stopped 23 shots in his second game back from a head injury.

"We came out flat-footed tonight and weren't playing our game," said Frattin. "We got our legs under ourselves later in the game, but it wasn't enough to get the win."

It's unclear if Reimer or Jonas Gustavsson will get the call tonight. Gustavsson stopped 40-of-41 shots when he faced the Capitals in the lopsided win on Nov. 19.

Toronto is 9-6-0 as the visiting team this season and has won four of its last five away from the Air Canada Centre.