GAME: Buffalo Sabres (30-31-6-1) at Washington Capitals (21-38-8-2).
TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST.
Judging by their moves at the trade deadline, it's clear that the Buffalo
Sabres are still focused on making the playoffs.
Buffalo continues its late-season push for the eighth playoff spot in the
Eastern Conference when it faces the last-place Washington Capitals.
Although the Sabres are still within striking distance of the struggling New
York Islanders for the East's final playoff berth, it was unclear whether
Buffalo would be sellers or buyers before Tuesday's deadline.
Right wing Miroslav Satan, the team leader with 26 goals, had been rumored
for months to be on his way out of Buffalo, but remained with the team.
While they kept one of their top offensive players, the Sabres also acquired
rugged forward Mike Grier from Washington for prospect Jakub Klepis, defenseman
Brad Brown from Minnesota for a draft pick on Monday, and defenseman Jeff
Jillson from San Jose for center Curtis Brown as part of a three-way trade with
"We could have very easily sold, and a lot of people expected us to sell,"
Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said. "We believe we can make it."
Consecutive wins over Ottawa and Toronto gave the Sabres momentum, but a 5-1
loss to visiting St. Louis on Sunday prevented them from pulling within four
points of the Islanders.
Derek Roy scored the lone goal for Buffalo, 1-for-8 on the power play.
"Our power play was useless out there," Roy said. "We didn't accomplish
Defenseman Alexei Zhitnik injured his right shoulder in the loss, but could
"It's a bruised rotator cuff," Zhitnik said. "It's just day-by-day. It
could be a couple days, could be one day, could be three days. It's not a
separation or a dislocation. It's just bruised muscles inside. It could have
been much worse."
The Sabres expect to have defenseman Jay McKee in the lineup Wednesday for
the first time in more than a month. McKee has missed 18 games with a knee
Washington has been one of the league's most active teams when it comes to
remaking its roster this season, trading away high-priced players Steve
Konowalchuk, Jaromir Jagr, Robert Lang, Michael Nylander, Peter Bondra, Sergei
Gonchar, Anson Carter and Grier.
Surprisingly, goaltender Olaf Kolzig and defenseman Brendan Witt were not
dealt by the Capitals, who have lost four of five and will finish with one of
the league's worst records.
Bondra, the franchise's all-time leading scorer, returned to Washington for
the first time Monday and was held without a point in Ottawa's 4-1 victory.
STANDINGS: Sabres - 67 points, 5th place, 21 PB, Northeast Division.
Capitals - 52 points, 5th place, 39 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Sabres - Satan, 26 goals; Daniel Briere, 29 assists and 51
points; Andrew Peters, 114 PIM. Capitals - Jeff Halpern and Dainius Zubrus, 12
goals; Halpern, 19 assists and 31 points; Darcy Verot, 106 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 8): Sabres - Power play: 15.9 percent (47 for
296), 16th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (248 for 293), 11th. Capitals
- Power play: 19.0 percent (55 for 289), 6th. Penalty killing: 81.6 percent
(270 for 331), 25th.
GOALTENDERS: Sabres - Martin Biron (19-14-4, 2.71 GAA); Mika Noronen
(11-15-2, 2, 2.47). Capitals - Kolzig (18-30-7, 2, 2.79); Sebastien Charpentier
SEASON SERIES: Sabres, 3-0.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 31; Sabres, 7-1. At Buffalo, N.Y., Maxim Afinogenov
recorded his first career hat trick and Satan added the fifth of his career to
lead the Sabres.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sabres - 12-19-2-0 on the road; Capitals - 11-18-5-1 at