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game preview

Sabres at Capitals preview

Ovechkin to play in 983rd game, tie Washington record; Buffalo 4-6-2 in past 12

by Brian McNally / Correspondent

SABRES (18-32-11) at CAPITALS (34-20-7)



The Game 

Forward Alex Ovechkin will play in his 983rd NHL game and tie Calle Johansson for the most games played in Washington Capitals history when the Capitals host the Buffalo Sabres at Capital One Arena on Saturday. 

Ovechkin, 32, is Washington's all-time leader in goals (594) and points (1,103), and needs six goals to become the 20th player to score 600 in the League. He leads the NHL in goals this season with 36, and has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in his past 11 games. 

The Capitals, 2-3-2 in their past seven games, are in second place in the Metropolitan Division, one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and one point ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. 

The Sabres, 4-6-2 in their past 12 games, are in eighth place in the Atlantic Division and trail the Columbus Blue Jackets by 18 points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.


Players to watch

Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past six games. 

Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who will start Saturday, is 2-0-0 with a 2.14 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage in his past three games (two starts).


They said it

"It just seems like on the road we just can focus. There's no distractions. … At home it just seems like the mentality right now … it's tough to get out of that rut. -- Sabres coach Phil Housley on Buffalo being 5-0-1 in its past six road games

"We always look at chemistry with the group … we brought in some guys with experience and our young guys have got experience now, and we know we had to get deeper there." -- Capitals coach Barry Trotz on trading for veteran defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek

Sabres projected lineup

Evander Kane -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Sam Reinhart

Zemgus Girgensons - Evan Rodrigues - Kyle Okposo

Scott Wilson -- Johan Larsson -- Jason Pominville

Benoit Pouliot -- Jacob Josefson -- Jordan Nolan 

Marco Scandella -- Casey Nelson

Nathan Beaulieu -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Josh Georges -- Victor Antipin

Robin Lehner

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Justin Faulk, Nicholas Baptiste

Injured: Jake Eichel (high ankle sprain), Jake McCabe (thumb), Zac Bogosian (hip)


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- Tom Wilson

Brett Connolly -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- T.J. Oshie

Chandler Stephenson -- Lars Eller -- Andre Burakovsky 

Alex Chiasson -- Jay Beagle -- Devante Smith-Pelly

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Christian Djoos -- John Carlson

Brooks Orpik -- Michal Kempny

Philipp Grubauer

Braden Holtby

Scratched: Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

Injured: None


Status report

Vrana is scratched for the fourth time in 13 games. Jerabek, acquired in a trade with Montreal on Wednesday, won't play. … Lehner is 3-0-1 in his past four road starts.  


Stat pack

The Capitals have earned a point in 25 of their past 32 games against the Sabres (21-7-4). … Okposo has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his past seven games against Washington. 

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