Preview: Capitals Look to Sweep Series Against Buffalo

The Washington Capitals may be looking for their third straight win, but their victories this past week have been far from pretty. They’ll likely look for a more secure win Friday when they take on the Buffalo Sabres, who they defeated in overtime fashion Monday.

With a win Friday, Washington will re-tie Philadelphia for third in the Metropolitan division and be separated from the division lead by just two points.

Washington Capitals at Buffalo Sabres

First Niagara Center – 7 p.m. EST

Broadcast channels – CSNMA, MSGB

2016-17 Season Series:

Nov. 25- Capitals 3 Sabres 1

Dec. 1 – Capitals 2 Sabres 1 (OT)

Washington Capitals – 15-7-3, 33 Points

Away Record: 5-3-3

Hot Players: Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Justin Williams

Key Injuries: Matt Niskanen (Upper-body)

Projected Lines:


Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie

Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams

Andre Burakovsky-Lars Eller-Jakub Vrana

Daniel Winnik-Jay Beagle-Tom Wilson


Karl Alzner-John Carlson

Brooks Orpik-Dmitry Orlov

Nate Schmidt-Taylor Chorney


Philipp Grubauer


Buffalo Sabres – 10-10-6, 26 Points

Home Record: 5-5-3

Hot Players: Kyle Okposo, Rasmus Ristolainen, Ryan O’Reilly, Jack Eichel

Key Injuries: Cody McCormick, Taylor Fedun, Nicolas Deslauriers, Zach Bogosian, Tyler Ennis

Projected Lines:


Brian Gionta-Ryan O’Reilly-Kyle Okposo

Evander Kane-Jack Eichel-Same Reinhart

Will Carrier-Johan Larsson-Marcus Foligno

Matt Moulson-Derek Grant-Zemgus Girgensons


Jake McCabe-Rasmus Ristolainen

Dmitry Kulikov-Cody Franson

Josh Gorges-Justin Falk


Robin Lehner

Game Notes

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Capitals will have to go without defenseman Matt Niskanen when they take on Buffalo Friday. Niskanen was injured in Washington’s 4-3 overtime win over Boston and was evaluated on Thursday. He has an upper-body injury, but it doesn’t seem long-term. Therefore, Washington recalled Aaron Ness in the meantime, but Taylor Chorney will likely dress over him.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]Washington’s power-play struggles continued against the Bruins, and they went 0-for-2 on the man advantage in the eventual overtime win. With Buffalo having the second-worst penalty kill in the league (75.6 percent success rate), the Capitals are going to have to make the most of their opportunities. In their last two games against the Sabres, Washington has put up at least one power-play goal, so expect them to be able to get something going on the man advantage.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3) [/miptheme_dropcap]With three goals in two games against the Sabres this season, Marcus Johansson will likely provide some offense Friday. Daniel Winnik has also been known to be dangerous against Buffalo, scoring a goal and assist in the season series against the Sabres.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]After a rough go-of-it for Holtby Wednesday, Philipp Grubauer will get the nod Friday. Grubauer was outstanding in his start against Buffalo back in November, stopping 32 of 33 shots and earning first-star honors. The German netminder has outstanding career numbers against the Sabres, going 1-0-2 and boasting a 1.08 GAA and .957 save mark. He will need to provide heroics again and stand tall against the offensive likes of Eichel, Okposo and O’Reilly.

Washington needs to treat every game going forward as if it’s the last one of the season. With a win Friday, the Capitals can go from seventh in the Eastern Conference to fourth (tied with PHI). This will help secure two points that are imperative considering how close the Eastern Conference standings are.

To escape Buffalo with a victory, the Capitals need momentum straight from the get-go, and can’t get lazy when they have a lead. They surrendered a three-goal lead against the Bruins Wednesday and waited until the remaining minutes of regulation to add some urgency. Against the Sabres, Washington needs to maintain possession, kept the pressure on in the offensive zone and get pucks on net.