Hi-Ho, Back to Washington We Go: Washington Capitals vs Buffalo Sabres

Washington Capitals (9-2-3) v Buffalo Sabres (9-2-2)

 

Predicted Goaltender Record (W-L-OTL) GAA / SA%/# of SO
Washington Capitals Braden Holtby 5-1-3 3.55 / .888 / 0
Buffalo Sabres Carter Hutton 6-1-1 2.21 / .926 / 2

 

After a very successful five-game road trip, the Washington Capitals will kick off a home-game-heavy November schedule tonight as they take on the Buffalo Sabres. Nine of their 14 games in November will be played at Capital One Arena, so now is the chance for Washington to establish some good home-ice performances. The last time these two teams met was back in February, where the Sabres bested the Caps 5-2 in Buffalo. However, Washington did beat Buffalo two weeks in a row last December, during the peak of their season, 4-3 the day after beating Carolina 6-5, and the following Friday 2-1, where they then shutout the Ottawa Senators 4-0 the very next day. Like last year, Buffalo is in the midst of another strong start, but for how long?

The Washington Capitals rounded out their annual October road-trip by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 4-3 win on Tuesday, courtesy of an Alex Ovechkin overtime slapshot from The Office. Andreas Johnsson scored his 4th goal of the season just 40 seconds into the game. Back to back goals from John Carlson, with the second coming on the power play, gave Washington a one-goal lead. However, Auston Matthews would tie the game with approximately thirty seconds remaining in the second period, bringing Caps’ fans to the edges of their seats once again. Less than a minute and a half into the final frame, the Leafs would receive their 7th power play of the night, thanks to another botched call made by the infamous Tim Peel. 19 seconds later, Auston Matthews would strike again, re-establishing the Leafs lead. Between the two teams, 34 penalty minutes and 15 power plays were doled out (TheScore, WAS @ TOR). Alex Ovechkin tied the game shortly after Matthews’ goal, and the Capitals were able to keep Toronto off the board for the remainder of the period. Once again, extra time was needed to decide the victor in Canada. Twenty-one seconds into the overtime period, William Nylander was called for tripping, and the Capitals received a much-needed power play. Washington was able to establish possession of the puck, and although they did not score on the first two-minute minor against Toronto in overtime, the Capitals would get a second chance. Just as the penalty against Nylander expired, Mitch Marner would be called for high-sticking, and the Caps went up an extra man for another two minutes. With 60 second remaining in overtime, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin would score the game-winning goal, guaranteeing the 9th of 10 possible points available this road-trip. The OT-GWG would mark Ovechkins’ 11th goal of the season. Despite a rough start, Braden Holtbys’ numbers are improving overall, with the veteran goaltender stopping 28 of 31 shots faced, and tallying his 5th win of the season versus Toronto. Braden Holtby is expected to start versus Buffalo tonight.

The Buffalo Sabres are off to very similar start to last year, but with a slightly different roster. Through trades and off-season acquisitions, the Sabres added Marcus Johansson (yes, that Johansson), Henri Jokiharju, and Jimmy Vesey to their lineup. Buffalo dropped their last game to the Arizona Coyotes in a 3-2 shootout loss, but are 7-2-1 in their last 10 starts. But so are the Washington Capitals. Jack Eichel leads the team in points (17), and is tied for most goals at seven with fellow forward Jeff Skinner. It would only make sense that the two of them are perhaps the most consistent goal scorers on the roster. Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner scored the first two goals of the game, giving the Sabres a 2-0 lead, but Conor Garland and former Avalanche center Carl Soderberg tied the game 2-2. Only Nick Schmaltz would pot the puck in the shootout, winning the game for Arizona. Buffalo’s power play is no joke; operating at 29.8% efficiency, the Sabres are second only to the Boston Bruins (31%) (TheScore, Boston)(TheScore, Buffalo). Their penalty kill, however, is 20th at just under 80% (79.2%) and the team allows the 5th most shots on goal at 33.5. Although both Buffalo goalies have incredible numbers, netminder Carter Hutton allowed just 2 goals on 44 shots versus the Coyotes, sans the shootout goal, and is expected to start for the Sabres.

The Buffalo Sabres are still without the services of Zach Bogosian (IR-NR, hip), Matt Hunwick (IR-NR, neck), Marco Scandella (lower body), Brandon Montour (DL, hand), and Jimmy Vesey (upper body) (TheScore, Buffalo). Early this morning, the Capitals recalled center Liam O’ Brien from the Hershey Bears. It is unclear who he will fill in for today. Yesterday, Evgeny Kuznetsov took a maintenance day after an awkward head/shoulders first collision in Tuesdays’ game, but is expected to play. Nic Dowd is listed as day-to-day, but did skate before practice yesterday.

Coverage of the game begins at 6:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 6:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 7:00pm.

 

Sources:

TheScore. (2019). Boston Bruins News and Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/1

TheScore. (2019). Buffalo Sabres News and Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/2

TheScore. (2019). Washington Capitals @ Toronto Maple Leafs. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/events/21906

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