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game preview

Capitals at Sabres preview

Washington can take sole possession of top spot in division; Buffalo goalie Ullmark makes first start since Jan. 28

by Heather Engel / Independent Correspondent

CAPITALS (41-20-7) at SABRES (29-31-8)



The Game

The Washington Capitals can take over sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division when they play the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Monday.

The Capitals are even with the Philadelphia Flyers atop the division. They're 4-2-1 in their past seven games, scoring at least four goals in five of them, after going 1-5-1 in their previous seven.

The Sabres have scored two goals or fewer in each game of a season-high six-game losing streak.

Goalie Linus Ullmark will make his first start for Buffalo since Jan. 28 after missing 17 games with a lower-body injury.


Players to watch

Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has scored four goals in his past four games. He's three from tying Mike Gartner (708) for seventh in NHL history.

Sabres forward Sam Reinhart will play in his 400th NHL game. He has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his past six games against the Capitals.


They said it

"He's added a lot to our team, not just goals and assists and making some plays. He's done some good things leadership wise in our room, on the bench. You can see he's a veteran player that's played in big games before, whether internationally or Stanley Cup Final. … It's allowed us to spread it out a little bit." -- Capitals coach Todd Reirden on forward Ilya Kovalchuk

"We've got to be consistent on it. It shouldn't matter if it's the first minute of the game or the last minute of the game. I find at times our desperation goes up as the game goes on. We need to have that same desperation when we come out for a power play two minutes into the game. It's been frustrating for us, but we need to find a way to break through it." -- Sabres center Jack Eichel on the power play, which is for 0-for-17 in the past seven games.


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Carl Hagelin -- Lars Eller -- Ilya Kovalchuk

Richard Panik -- Nic Dowd -- Garnet Hathaway

Brenden Dillon -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Nick Jensen

Michal Kempny -- Jonas Siegenthaler

Braden Holtby

Ilya Samsonov

Scratched: Travis Boyd, Brendan Leipsic, Radko Gudas

Injured: None


Sabres projected lineup

Jeff Skinner -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Victor Olofsson -- Marcus Johansson -- Dominik Kahun

Jimmy Vesey -- Curtis Lazar -- Wayne Simmonds

Zemgus Girgensons -- Johan Larsson -- Kyle Okposo

Brandon Montour -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Rasmus Dahlin -- Colin Miller

Jake McCabe -- Henri Jokiharju

Linus Ullmark

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Michael Frolik

Injured: Tage Thompson (upper body), Vladimir Sobotka (lower body), Lawrence Pilut (illness)


Status report

The Capitals will use the same lineup from their 5-2 win at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. … Pilut participated in the morning skate but the defenseman will miss his second straight game. … Vesey will play after he was a healthy scratch against the Flyers on Saturday.


Stat pack

Panik has six points (two goals, four assists) in a four-game point streak. … Simmonds is one point from 500 in the NHL. … Okposo will play in his 800th NHL game.

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