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Buffalo Sabres vs. Washington Capitals @NHLdotcom
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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 Boston.

"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 anything."

Defenseman Alexei Zhitnik injured his right shoulder in the loss, but could play Wednesday.

"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 injury.

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 (0-5-0, 3.29).

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 home.

Associated Press
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