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Sharpen Up: November 25, 2016

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak / Sabres.com

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Now it's back to work. The Sabres are in our nation's capital tonight as they try to extend their three-game point streak against Washington.

It's an early (well, earlier) game with faceoff set for 5 p.m. Tune into the TOPS Gamenight pregame show at 4:30 p.m. as you warm up those leftovers.

Here's what you need to know.

Jack Eichel practiced with the team yesterday before they flew out for D.C., but he will not play tonight. 

From Jourdon LaBarber's Thanksgiving edition of the Ice Level Practice Report:

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma called the session on Thursday "another level of practice" for Eichel, which is a step in the right direction. While it wasn't the most physical of practices, Eichel did participate in line work and rush drills. You can watch a lot of what he worked on in today's Sabres in :90 with Brian Duff:

Video: Sabres in :90 11/24/16

In the third period of Buffalo's 2-1 shootout loss to Detroit on Wednesday, Bylsma tinkered with some of his lines, most notably breaking up the steady combination of Johan Larsson between Marcus Foligno and Brian Gionta. That change was made to give Foligno some top-line minutes with Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo.  

"I thought we needed a little spark with some speed and some physicality on that line," Bylsma said. 

Video: BYLSMA: After Practice

The lines that ended regulation on Wednesday were back together during yesterday's practice. We'll have to see if they stick for tonight's game.

82 Marcus Foligno - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
48 William Carrier - 23 Sam Reinhart - 26 Matt Moulson
9 Evander Kane - 22 Johan Larsson - 12 Brian Gionta
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 19 Cal O'Reilly - 27 Derek Grant

Cole Schneider skated as the extra forward.

"I thought with Larsson and Kane, they've had some brief times together - they've had some time together last year; they had a few games earlier in the year together," Bylsma said. "And I thought that gave us some good speed up front. Will Carrier stepped in in the third period there and added that as well." 

 

Notes for tonight

This is the first of three meetings between the Sabres and Capitals this season.

Zemgus Girgensons has three points (1+2) in his last three games against the Capitals while Evander Kane has six career two-point games against Washington, including a goal and an assist in his last meeting with the Capitals on Jan. 16.

The Capitals have been pretty good against Buffalo lately. The Capitals have earned a point in 21 of their last 27 games against the Sabres (17-6-4) and in 12 of their last 14 home games against Buffalo (10-2-2). 

Alex Ovechkin has earned 41 points (26+15) in 39 career games against the Sabres and has earned nine points (6+3) in his last seven games against Buffalo. Nicklas Backstrom has recorded 26 points (8+18) in 31 games career games against the Sabres and Braden Holtby has posted a 7-3-1 record in his career against Buffalo.

The Capitals are coming off a 4-3 win over St. Louis on Wednesday. Ovechkin had three of those goals. 

 

Shopping sprees

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On tap today

Stick with us throughout the day for lineup news and notes. Jourdon LaBarber, Brian Duff, Dan Dunleavy, Brad May and Rob Ray are on the scene for tonight's game. And then stick around for postgame coverage as we'll have locker room interviews, highlights and more. 

 Enjoy the game!

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