Capitals welcome free-falling Maple Leafs

The Washington Capitals will try to aid their playoff chances with a third consecutive victory, as they host the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs today at the Verizon Center.

Washington enters today's action as the eighth seed in the East and is two points ahead of Winnipeg and Buffalo for the conference's final postseason berth.

After beginning this month with consecutive regulation losses, the Capitals have recorded a point in three straight games (2-0-1). Washington won its second straight contest Saturday afternoon in Boston and the victory improved the Caps' record to 5-2-1 in their last eight trips to the ice.

Alexander Semin recorded a goal and an assist to help the Capitals defeat the Bruins, 4-3, at TD Garden. Washington held a 2-0 lead before letting Boston tie the score early in the second period. However, Jay Beagle and Brooks Laich scored to give the Capitals a 4-2 edge by the end of 40 minutes and Washington held on for the win in the third period.

Matt Hendricks had the other goals for the Capitals, while Tomas Vokoun turned aside 30 shots for the win.

"Those two goals right there were the difference today," Washington head coach Dale Hunter said of the early scores. "Whenever you can score a couple in the first 10 minutes and hold the other guys off the board, that's half the battle right there."

Washington is home for today's game before heading out on a five-game road trip. The Caps are 22-10-3 as the host this year compared to a 12-18-3 mark away from D.C.

Capitals defenseman Mike Green will serve the second portion of a three-game suspension today. Green was sanctioned by the league for elbowing Tampa's Brett Connolly in the head.

Meanwhile, Toronto, which is six points behind Washington in the East standings, has lost three in a row, nine of 10 and 13 of its last 15 games.

The Maple Leafs were held without a goal by visiting Philadelphia on Saturday, but Toronto was at least able to salvage a point in the 1-0 shootout loss.

Philadelphia's Claude Giroux netted the lone goal of the shootout, ending the second round by using multiple stick fakes to pull Jonas Gustavsson out of position before flipping a shot under the crossbar.

Phil Kessel tried to sneak his shot home inside the right post, but Ilya Bryzgalov flashed his pad to end the game. Bryzgalov stopped 29 shots through 65 minutes for the Flyers, who are 3-0 against Toronto this year.

Gustavsson ended with 27 saves to take the hard-luck loss for the Maple Leafs.

"Their goalie played well, as did ours," Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bozak said. "Unfortunately it came down to a shootout and we couldn't do it."

Today's tilt marks the start of a five-game road trip for Toronto, which is just 14-17-2 as the visiting team this season.

Leafs forward Colby Armstrong (broken nose) and defenseman Cody Franson (face laceration) missed Saturday's game and are questionable for today. Forward Joffrey Lupul will miss a third straight game after suffering a separated shoulder.

Toronto slammed the visiting Capitals by a 7-1 score in the opener of this season series back on Nov. 19, but Washington has taken two straight over the Leafs since. The Caps have taken four of the last five encounters overall and Toronto has also lost four of five in D.C.