MAPLE LEAFS at CAPITALS
7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports 2, CSN-DC
Best-of-7 series tied 2-2
ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs will play Game 5 of their Eastern Conference First Round Series at Verizon Center on Friday.
Washington tied the series with a 5-4 win in Game 4 in Toronto. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, when a Stanley Cup Playoff series is tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 is 193-54 in the series.
Here are 5 keys for Game 5:
1. Get a lead, keep a lead
Each of the four games in the series have been decided by one goal and three have been decided in overtime. Washington led Toronto 4-1 at after the first period of Game 4, and hung on to win 5-4 after a late Maple Leafs push nearly tied the game. Coach Barry Trotz knows that can't keep happening if the Capitals want to win the series. Washington has to find a way to stay aggressive during Toronto's inevitable third-period comebacks.
"In the end, I know we just got to get on our toes a little bit in the third there," Trotz said. "We were just backing up a little bit too much. We've got to continue to push forward a little bit more."
Matthews played his best games of the series in Games 3 and 4, scoring three points (two goals, one assist). A 40-goal scorer in the regular season, the Capitals will have to contain Matthews and limit his chances to make plays.
"I think he just keeps getting better and better," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "I thought he was outstanding for us last game, he played when the game was on the line and he pushed us back. To me, he's a 200-[foot player] with and without (the puck), and he's learned a lot this year."
3. Better in the dot
Washington has won 46.2 percent of faceoffs in the series and the Maple Leafs are second among playoff teams winning 53.8 percent. The Capitals were better in the faceoff circle in Game 4, winning 52.5 percent, which they felt helped them command the pace of the game.
"I mean, faceoffs, we've talked about that all year, starting with the puck or not starting with the puck, chasing or dictating," Capitals forward Jay Beagle said. "It's pretty simple: You've got to win draws to be able to feel like you're going to be able to come at them. And so, draws are obviously very key and we spend a lot of time on them. Matthews has been really strong on faceoffs toward the end of the year, and you could kind of tell that. We've just got to continue to try to do a good job of trying to start with the puck."
4. Stay the course
The Maple Leafs aren't feeling the pressure of having to play an important playoff game on the road. Babcock has instilled a belief and confidence in his young players that they can win a playoff series against a Presidents' Trophy-winning team.
"We came into this series being a confident team when we play the right way and now here we are, a best-of-3, these are the elements that make it fun," forward James van Riemsdyk said. "These games are fun to play in."
5. Back to bounces
Toronto has scored a number of its goals off deflections and bounces, something Washington wants to limit. Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby has been working on his body control and figuring out tendencies of Maple Leafs players in order to combat that.
"There's always screens every game, pucks that you don't see and you just got to find it as quick as possible," Holtby said. "But I think our guys are trying to figure it out. There's emphasis on the high forward a lot and our 'D' are going to realize that they have time to front some of those pucks and I've got to battle harder to find sightlines. We've consistently gotten better at that throughout the series. Tonight will be even better."
Capitals projected lineup
Injured: Karl Alzner (upper body)
Maple Leafs projected lineup
Alzner participated in the morning skate but did not take rushes or drills and will not play. ... The Capitals recalled Stephenson from Hershey of the American Hockey League on Friday, but he likely will be scratched.
Bozak (two goals, two assists), Marner (one goal, three assists) and Rielly (one goal, three assists) each have four points in four games. … Matthews (two goals, one assist) and van Riemsdyk (two goals, one assist) each have three points in four games. … Oshie has six points (two goals, four assists) during a four game point streak. … Backstrom has five points (two goals, three assists) in four games. … Williams has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past four games. … Wilson and Ovechkin each have three goals in his past four games.
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