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Sharpen Up: February 18, 2021 | Sabres face Capitals at 7 p.m.

Buffalo kicks off 4-game road trip tonight

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

It's a Sabres game night. 

Buffalo opens up a four-game road trip tonight in the nation's capital when they face the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena at 7 p.m. on MSG and WGR 550. Pregame coverage on MSG begins at 6:30. That sure is a lot of capitals - both lowercase and, um, uppercase.  

Here's what you need to know.


Tonight's matchup

This is the fifth of eight meetings between the Sabres and Capitals this season. Washington currently leads the season series 3-0-1 with two of those games decided by the shootout. The clubs last played on January 24 when the Sabres won 4-3 in the shootout. 

Video: Eichel, Sabres top Capitals in shootout, 4-3

The Sabres currently have the fifth-ranked power play in the league. The team has scored on 13 of its 43 power play opportunities this season for a 30.2 percent conversion rate. Buffalo has scored at least one power-play goal in six of their last seven games, going 10-for-26 (38.5%) in those contests.

Victor Olofsson has led the way for the Sabres with the man advantage. He leads the team with four power-play goals, which is tied for fifth in the NHL. He is tied for seventh in the league with nine power-play points. His 17 career power-play tallies trailed only David Pastrnak (22) and Leon Draisaitl (20) for the most in the league since he made his NHL debut on March 28, 2019.

Check out @SabresPR's Game Notes for more stats.

All clear

At one point last week, the Sabres had nine players - forwards Dylan Cozens, Taylor Hall, Curtis Lazar, Casey Mittelstadt and Tobias Rieder, and defensemen Rasmus Dahlin, Jake McCabe, Brandon Montour and Rasmus Ristolainen - as well as head coach Ralph Krueger in the NHL's COVID protocol.

Yesterday, Mittelstadt was removed from protocol and now no Sabres players on the NHL's COVID-related absence list.  

Krueger said in his weekly appearance on WGR 550 this morning that Cozens, Lazar and Mittelstadt will be among the players who will participate in this morning's pregame skate, but their status for tonight's game is still to be determined.  

Krueger expects all players who were in protocol to be fully up to speed by next week.

The NHL is sharing the names of players who are "unavailable" to teams due to COVID protocols and updating a public list each day.

These "COVID Protocol Related Absences" can be the result of a number of factors including, among others: 
(1) an initial positive test which remains unconfirmed until confirmatory testing is completed pursuant to the Positive Test Protocol; 
(2) mandated isolation for symptomatic individuals pursuant to the Positive Test Protocol; 
(3) required quarantine as a high-risk close contact in accordance with the Positive Test Protocol; 
(4) isolation based on a confirmed positive test result and/or; 
(5) quarantine for travel or other reasons as outlined in the COVID-19 Protocol.

No additional detail will be provided either by the League or the team, including the precise reason a player is unavailable or how long he might be out.

The Sabres loaned forward Rasmus Asplund and defenseman William Borgen to the team's taxi squad yesterday.

Krueger said this morning on WGR that he has liked how far Borgen has come over the last few years, and praised the physical aspect of his game. He skated 17:26 in Monday's loss, his second game of the season.
"We have another solid NHL defenseman there and he ahas gone the proper route of being drafted, working within an organization and developing himself step by step with amazing pro habits," Krueger said. "We're really excited with what we've seen in Will and his future his bright."


Amerks in action tonight 

Watch: Youtube Video

Forwards Steven Fogarty, Andrew Oglevie, and C.J. Smith and defenseman Jacob Bryson were reassigned from the Sabres' taxi squad to the Rochester Americans yesterday.

Rochester hosts Utica tonight at Blue Cross Arena. They're 2-1-0 so far this year, and have not played since their 7-3 victory over Cleveland on Friday. 

Smith (2+2), forward Jean-Sebastien Dea (2+2) and defenseman Oskari Laaksonen (0+4) are tied for the team lead with four points each.  

Goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is 2-0-0 with a .913 save percentage and a 2.97 goals-against average. Dustin Tokarski is 0-1-0 with a .912 save percentage and a 3.02 GAA.

The game will air live on The Sports Leaders 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester as well as AHLTV. The matchup will also be tape-delayed and available for viewing beginning at 10 p.m. on The CW Rochester. 

Check out for the latest news and notes from Rochester. 

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