Coming off a 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road Monday night, the Buffalo Sabres are looking for a better result Tuesday at home against the Washington Capitals.
The Sabres host the Capitals at First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m. The game can be seen nationally on NBCSN.
Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan will make a few lineup changes for the game.
John Scott will be in for Linus Omark on the fourth line and Alexander Sulzer will replace Jamie McBain on defense. Jhonas Enroth will start in goal.
When asked about McBain and his play against Pittsburgh, Nolan spoke about how he wants his team to play the same way every game, regardless of the opponent. To improve in that regard, he’s looking for a more consistent effort from each player.
“I just want to see better. As every player on this team, you’ve got to be better. There are a couple others that were in the same boat but the bottom line is we have to be better,” he said. “There are just no other ways to put it, especially with the team that we have.
“We can’t afford one or two bad blunders and turnovers and not concentrating. This is a 60-minute game and we have to play that way all the time and if we don’t, we’re going to get ourselves in trouble no matter how good our goaltending is.”
The Sabres held a players-only meeting after the loss in Pittsburgh that lasted almost 10 minutes. Captain Steve Ott said after the morning skate Friday that they revered the Penguins a little too much and need to correct that moving forward into the game against the Capitals.
“We had a little talk. Obviously we’re trying to better our team here as well on a daily basis. They’re such a good team in aspect of the players and personnel that they have but you can respect your opponent but you can’t fear them,” he said. “I thought we were a little gun-shy to start that game, almost in awe – a little bit of an awe factor. You can’t have that mindset.”
With that mindset also comes the need to play a more physical, desperate game. Alternate captain Henrik Tallinder addressed that after the morning skate and also said that it’s up to the veteran players to push for more accountability.
“We have to come in with a lot more grit and a lot more determination into a game like last night,” Tallinder said. “To be able to get games going or get the team going, you have to play physical and be a little bit more competitive than we were last night.”
Buffalo is looking to move past the game in Pittsburgh and focus on putting in a good effort against Washington. It’s the second game of five for the Sabres over an eight-day stretch.
“It wasn’t a good game overall for us, so we’re trying to put that behind us and focus on Washington tonight,” Sabres center Cody Hodgson said. “They’re another skilled, top-end team that we need to keep in check and figure out how to generate some offense.”
The Sabres have not allowed a power-play goal in their past four games and are 9-for-9 during that stretch. Ott credited the work assistant coach Joe Sacco has done with the penalty killers both on the ice and during video sessions.
“[Continuing] to keep short, aggressive shifts has been a key to our penalty kill as of late,” Ott said. “I think you’ve seen us all pressuring in certain situations and I think we’re starting to really feel like we’re reading off each other a lot better. If one guy goes to pursue pressure, they’re all going.”