Hot Maple Leafs take on defending champs
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WASHINGTON -- Goaltender Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals will try to cool off Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night at Capital One Arena.
Mathews has nine goals and three assists in five games and the Maple Leafs are off to a 4-1 start.
In a 5-3 win at Detroit Thursday night, Matthews scored twice on the power play for the Maple Leafs, who were 2-for-4 with the man-advantage. They're 7-for-14 with the extra man so far this season.
"We have a lot of guys who can finish on this team, especially when we are on the power play," Toronto center John Tavares told NHL.com. "When I get the puck, I'm just trying to get it to an open player. If that's (Matthews), it is an automatic goal right now."
Tavares had a career-high four assists against Detroit -- giving him 10 points -- and Mitchell Marner and Morgan Rielly each had a goal and an assist. Frederik Andersen made 26 saves.
Matthews has scored in five straight games and is one game shy of tying Sweeney Schriner's 74-year-old team record for most consecutive games at the start of a season with at least one goal. He's recorded multiple points in all five games.
Defenseman Rielly has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in his first five games, the best five-game start by an NHL defenseman in modern history. The previous high was 11 points by Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins in 1973-74.
"I think it's great for all the guys that are doing some scoring right now," Leafs coach Mike Babcock told the Toronto Sun. "In the end, though, it's about winning every night and it doesn't really matter on our team who does the scoring as long as we score enough to find a way to win. I think the guys have been real good about that."
The last player to record nine goals in the first five games of the season will also be on the ice Saturday night as Washington winger Alex Ovechkin accomplished the feat last season.
Ovechkin and company didn't manage any goals when they suffered their first regulation defeat of the season -- 6-0 to the New Jersey Devils Thursday night.
Playing the second of back-to-backs, the Stanley Cup champs fell behind early and the Devils poured it on late.
"I think it's going to be like that all season," Washington's Lars Eller told NBCSportsWashington.com of the Devils' all-out effort. "Teams are going to want to beat the champs and show their best. They got a lot of energy going tonight and we didn't have as much of it."
The Capitals (2-1-1) entered the game having scored a franchise-best 18 goals, the most in their history through the first three games of the season.
Back-up goalie Pheonix Copley made 30 saves for the Capitals against New Jersey.
"First period especially, he was really good," Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen told NBCSportsWashington.com. "He didn't get a very good effort in front of him. He played hard and made some big saves in the first when it was still close. The rest of us got to do better."
Washington opens a three-game homestand against the Maple Leafs, who are finishing a four-game road swing.
Holtby is 8-3-1 with a 2.05 goals against average and .934 save percentage versus the Maple Leafs, while Andersen is 3-1-1 with a 2.88 GAA and .909 save percentage against Washington.
Updated October 12, 2018