NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Sunday, December 29th
(All times Eastern)
Washington Capitals (20-14-4) at Buffalo Sabres (10-24-4), 5 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Capitals look to secure back-to-back
victories on Sunday evening as they visit the Buffalo Sabres in the first of
consecutive road games.
The Capitals salvaged the finale of a three-game homestand on Friday by
holding off the New York Rangers in a 3-2 victory. Nicklas Backstrom, Mike
Green and Eric Fehr all scored and Philipp Grubauer made 38 saves.
Fehr had the game-winner late in the third period after the Rangers had tied
the game while shorthanded 17 seconds into the frame. Fehr ripped a shot from
the right circle, finally notching his sixth goal of the season after having a
tally overturned in the second frame.
"Last year by far he was our most versatile player," said Washington head
coach Adam Oates about Fehr. "His offensive reads, he has a great stick - he
is kind of an opportunist player. The goal tonight, maybe caught the goalie
off guard, and he almost had one in the second on the power play."
The Capitals, who had lost four of six coming in, will play four of their next
five on the road, including Monday's tilt in Ottawa.
Oates has plenty of options in net as Washington continues to carry three
goaltenders. The Caps opened the season with Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth
manning the crease and Grubauer got a chance to play while Neuvirth was
Grubauer has made a case for sticking around, going 5-1-1 with a 2.18 goals
against average in eight games, including six starts.
While Alex Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 30 goals, has failed to light the
lamp in back-to-back games after notching eight over his previous six games,
Backstrom has logged four goals and 13 assists over his last eight games.
The Sabres will need to keep their eye on that duo while aiming to rebound
from a tough 4-3 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday.
Buffalo took a first-period lead when Matt Moulson and John Scott scored 52
seconds apart, but Toronto rallied for three goals in the second frame.
"That was one of the worst periods we've played all year," Moulson said of his
club's second period. "Obviously, they took advantage of that."
Steve Ott, though, forced overtime when he scored with 24.1 ticks left in
regulation and Ryan Miller helped his team earn a point by making 39 saves.
Buffalo, which had won three of four coming in, saw Scott score his first goal
of the season and second of his career. His first tally came on Nov. 15, 2009
while with Minnesota.
The Sabres and Capitals are meeting for the first time this season after
Washington won all three encounters a season ago.
The Caps have taken seven of the last 10 encounters overall, claiming a 4-3
shootout triumph in their lone trip to Buffalo a season ago.
Miller is 13-11-0 with a 2.58 GAA and three shutouts in 25 career starts
12/29 10:22:13 ET