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Sabres search for offense vs. Caps

by Brian Compton
CAPITALS (30-19-10) at SABRES (27-24-6)

TV: NBC, NHL-Network (Canada).

Last 10: Washington 3-5-2; Buffalo 6-3-1.

Season Series: This is the third of four meetings between the teams. Washington is 1-0-1 in its first two games against Buffalo. The Caps avenged a 3-2 overtime loss on Nov. 13 by earning a 4-2 victory just four nights later.

Big Story: It's a tale of two teams that, for the most part, are experiencing tremendous difficulty scoring at all. The Sabres enter Sunday's matinee having scored only once in their last two games, which were the first two of a six-game homestand. Buffalo dropped a 3-0 decision to St. Louis on Friday at HSBC Arena.

"You can look pretty bad if you're not working together," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "We weren't working together as a team. The last two games, it's turned into some individual effort that we've hung on to pucks too long, we've tried to carry pucks too long. A big part of our game is our passing. If our passing isn't sharp, we don't come up the ice very well. I thought our passing might have been at a season-low (Friday night)."

Team Scope:

Capitals: Twenty-hours after they erupted for seven goals in a wild 7-6 win at Anaheim, the Caps' offense was somewhat stagnant in a 3-2 loss at San Jose. It marked the 11th time in the last 16 games that Washington has been limited to two or fewer goals in a game.

"We didn't get rewarded," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said after Thursday's loss to the Sharks. "We played I thought as good a first period as we could play coming into this building, knowing that they hadn't been here in two weeks and that they would come out rocking. That's the time that you hope to get a 2-0 lead going into the second period and let the play from behind.

"We lost. We're going to have to regroup. We've got a team like Buffalo that's waiting to gain on us and we've got to just go after them."

Sabres: Still very much alive in the race to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Sabres know they'll need to dig a little deeper if they hope to gain ground in the Eastern Conference. The effort will certainly need to be better against the Caps than it was in back-to-back losses to Toronto and St. Louis, respectively.

"We've just got to work harder," said forward Drew Stafford, who leads the Sabres with 24 goals. "We didn't have it pretty much the last two games and it's unacceptable, so we had a good work day (Saturday) and all we can do is just make sure we're coming out working."

Who's Hot: Alex Ovechkin has goals in back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 28.
Injury Report: Caps defenseman Mike Green (upper body) is questionable, while Tom Poti is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Eric Fehr (shoulder) is out. … Sabres forward Derek Roy is out for the season.

Stat Pack: Washington has shorthanded goals in back-to-back games. … Sabres goalie Ryan Miller is winless in his last three starts (0-2-1). He's allowed 11 goals during that span and has just an .861 save percentage.

Puck Drop: "We got outworked the last couple of games. We were sluggish in the Toronto game, (Friday) night we weren't real crisp and it cost us two points." -- Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold
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