Maple Leafs-Capitals Preview

Brooks Laich pointed to a better comfort level with coach Barry Trotz as a reason for one of the Washington Capitals' finest starts in franchise history.

By the looks of it, the Toronto Maple Leafs are still getting adjusted to Mike Babcock.

The Capitals will seek their best start in 23 seasons Saturday night by sending the Maple Leafs to another defeat.

Washington opened 3-0-2 under Trotz in 2014-15 but dropped off quickly, going 7-10-2 in the next 19 before recovering to make the playoffs.

The Capitals enter this weekend looking to improve to 10-3-0 for the first time since winning 11 of 14 to begin 1991-92.

"Last season, we were still figuring things out with the new staff, the new system, new terminology and a couple new players," Laich said. "This year, it's just a continuation from last year with the same system, same structure and same staff. It's just pretty easy on us players."

The Capitals rebounded from a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday with a 4-1 victory against Boston two days later. Alex Ovechkin's seventh goal was the first of four unanswered for Washington, which has yet to suffer back-to-back defeats, and Laich scored his first.

"If you lose two in a row, you lose traction in the standings," Laich said. "We were able to bounce back and get a win. Now you want to make it a good week with a win against Toronto."

The Maple Leafs are 2-8-3 under Babcock and own the fewest points in the NHL. They are 1-6-2 in their last nine following a 2-1 overtime loss to their coach's former team, Detroit, on Friday.

Toronto salvaged a point when Dion Phaneuf scored with 1:01 remaining in regulation.

"We came back, and I thought it was a big point for our team," the Leafs captain said. "Now we move forward to Washington."

Toronto is 1-4-1 on the road entering the opener to a three-game trip and 2-8-1 in its last 11 trips to Washington. A 4-0 loss March 1 was the Maple Leafs' fourth in a row at the Verizon Center.

The Capitals are 5-1-1 in the last seven overall matchups with Ovechkin predictably leading them with six goals and three assists. Their superstar has at least one point in 10 games this season and is two goals shy of passing former teammate Sergei Fedorov (483) for most by a Russian-born player.

Marcus Johansson had three goals in the last two meetings in 2014-15, and T.J. Oshie had four goals and five assists in seven matchups while with St. Louis.

Braden Holtby is 4-1-1 with a 1.48 goals-against average versus Toronto. If he starts, he'll face a team that's totaled 16 goals in its last nine games.

Babcock might stick with James Reimer, who started Friday, or give Antoine Bibeau his NHL debut. Bibeau was called up Tuesday to replace an injured Jonathan Bernier (lower body).