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Capitals-Sabres Preview @NHL
Capitals-Sabres Preview

GAME: Washington Capitals (7-11-0) at Buffalo Sabres (9-9-0).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.

Coming off an impressive victory, the Washington Capitals hope to have No. 1 goaltender Olaf Kolzig available when they visit the Buffalo Sabres.

Following back-to-back losses to the New Jersey Devils, the Capitals appeared headed for their fourth straight defeat before rookie Alexander Ovechkin took over.

Ovechkin scored his 14th goal with 1:15 left in regulation, then netted the only goal during the shootout, lifting Washington to a 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

"When I sit on the bench, I know what I must do," said Ovechkin, who is 3-for-3 in shootouts.

Ovechkin's 14 goals lead all rookies and are 10 more than teammate Matt Bradley, who ranks second on the team. The Capitals have needed Ovechkin's production because they have scored only 44 goals through 18 games, among the lowest totals in the league.

All seven of the Capitals' victories this season have been by one goal.

Kolzig strained his hamstring during practice last Thursday and has missed three games. If Kolzig isn't healthy enough to play, Brent Johnson, who is 5-0 with a 1.38 goals-against average in his career against Buffalo, would likely make his third consecutive start.

Kolzig was in net for Washington's 3-2 win at Buffalo on Oct. 26, its only road win of the season.

The Sabres snapped an 11-game winless streak against the New Jersey Devils with a 4-1 victory Tuesday.

Chris Drury and J.P. Dumont each had a goal and an assist, and Brian Campbell scored the eventual game-winner on the power play at 7:14 of the second period.

"It feels really good, especially with the game that we played out there," Dumont said. "It just took any goal to get the team going. We did all the little things right tonight."

It was the second win in three games for Buffalo following a four-game losing streak. The Sabres have won two straight at home, but have dropped seven of 10 overall.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 16): Capitals - 14 points, 5th place, 13 PB, Southeast Division. Sabres - 18 points, 5th place, 11 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Capitals - Ovechkin, 14 goals and 19 points; Steve Eminger and Jeff Halpern, 10 assists; Chris Clark, 36 PIM. Sabres - Daniel Briere, 11 goals and 17 points; Teppo Numminen, 12 assists; Jochen Hecht, 16 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 16): Capitals - Power play: 11.8 percent (12 for 101), 29th in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.0 percent (110 for 141), 28th. Sabres - Power play: 21.0 percent (24 for 114), 5th. Penalty killing: 80.9 percent (68 for 84), 21st.

GOALTENDERS: Capitals - Kolzig (6-7-0, 0 SO, 3.78 GAA); Johnson (1-3-0, 4.74). Sabres - Martin Biron (3-4-0, 0, 3.91); Mika Noronen (0-1-0, 7.27).

SEASON SERIES: Capitals, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 26; Capitals, 3-2. At Buffalo, N.Y., Petr Sykora had a goal and an assist, and Jamie Heward scored on the power play to lead Washington.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Capitals - 1-7-0 on the road; Sabres - 6-4-0 at home.

Associated Press
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