NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, March 17th (All times Eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (10-14-4) at Washington Capitals (11-15-1), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Two clubs in danger of fading from the Eastern Conference playoff race get together on Sunday night in search of two much-needed points as the Washington Capitals host the Buffalo Sabres.
The Capitals put themselves in an early hole with a 2-8-1 start to the season and haven't helped their cause as of late with losses in four of their past five games. That leaves Washington 14th in the East with 23 points, one fewer than Buffalo and eight back of the eighth spot in the conference.
The Sabres also started slow, holding just a 3-6-1 mark after their first 10 games, and have dropped five of their past six games.
Washington's offense continued its struggles in Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins. The Caps have put home just seven goals in their last five games since a 7-1 victory over Florida on March 7.
And even Saturday's goal didn't come off the stick of a Caps player as Marcus Johansson was credited with the tally after Boston's Johnny Boychuk accidentally deflected a pass from his teammate into his own net.
"Only because I feel a little snake-bit," Capitals head coach Adam Oates said about his concern with the lack of offense. "We have had a lot of chances. I'm not worried about production, it will be there, but you go through stretches like this and wonder how it will work itself out."
Michal Neuvirth made 34 stops in defeat.
The Sabres were aiming for a second straight win on Saturday and grabbed an early lead against the Ottawa Senators on first-period goals from Mike Weber and Drew Stafford.
The Sens, though, scored three times in the second period, and after Stafford's second goal of the game with 7:54 to play in the third evened the score, Ottawa clinched a 4-3 overtime win on Kyle Turris' power-play goal with 1:06 left in the bonus frame.
Ryan Miller stopped 30 shots in the setback, which dropped the Sabres to 1-2-3 in their last six.
"When we were playing with urgency and determination we had a good third period, it's just too bad," said Miller. "I need to be a little bit better and not give them the lead, but they caught a couple of bounces there."
Sabres forward Ville Leino played in his first game of the season after sitting out the first 27 with a hip injury and had an assist, while Patrick Kaleta served the final contest of his five-game suspension for an illegal hit.
The Sabres have lost six of their last seven trips to Washington, including a 3-2 setback back on Jan. 27.
Alex Ovechkin had a goal and Neuvirth made 22 saves in the Capitals' first win of the season.
Miller gave up all three goals on 30 shots in the loss.
03/17 10:22:55 ET