January 27, 2013
Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Season series: This is the first meeting of the season. Buffalo won three of the four meetings last season, including a pair of 5-1 victories.
Big story: Washington is the only team in the Eastern Conference left without a victory, and new coach Adam Oates needs his stars to get untracked against the Sabres, who have lost two straight.
Sabres: Buffalo was off to a hot start with back-to-back wins against Philadelphia and Toronto, but the Sabres dropped both ends of a home-and-home with the Carolina Hurricanes to slip back to .500. Goaltending was an issue in Raleigh, N.C., where backup Jhonas Enroth was touched up for five goals on 37 shots. The offense was off to a great start, but Carolina's backup Dan Ellis shutdown the Sabres on Thursday night at First Niagara Center.
The top line of Thomas Vanek, Cody Hodgson and Jason Pominville has been a smashing success to this point. Each has three goals, and the trio has combined for 20 points. The rest of the team only has two goals, but Ryan Miller boasts a .952 save percentage and 1.67 goals-against average in his two starts.
Rookie Mikhail Grigorenko is pointless through four games, and could be in danger of being sent back to his junior team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League after this contest because playing in a sixth game would burn a year off his entry-level contract.
Capitals: Mike Green scored a goal to help Washington steal a point against New Jersey on Thursday night, but Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom have combined for no goals and three assists to this point. With Brooks Laich out because of an injury, depth up front is an issue and the offense has struggled.
Killing penalties has also been a problem -- the Capitals have yielded eight extra-man goals in four contests. Perhaps the best way to put Washington's season-starting scuffle in perspective is this stat -- the Capitals have played 125 minutes of hockey and held a lead for less than three.
Who's hot: Vanek and Pominville have at least one point in each of Buffalo's four games. Michal Neuvirth easily provided Washington's best goaltending performance of the young season when he stopped 32 of 35 shots against the Devils. He is expected to start for the third straight game after Braden Holtby was in net for the first two contests of the campaign.
Injury report: Ville Leino (hip) Cody McCormick (finger) are out for the Sabres, Vanek (lower body) missed practice Friday and is questionable. Laich (groin) and Jack Hillen (upper body) are out for the Capitals.
Expected In Goal:
(Has not confirmed as of post time.
This point has been edited by Erik C.: 27 January 2013 - 05:54 PM