Washington Capitals (41-21-6) vs Buffalo Sabres (29-30-8)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||25-14-5||3.14 / .897 / 0|
|Buffalo Sabres||Linus Ullmark||16-14-3||2.72 / .914 / 1|
The Washington Capitals are continuing their three-game road trip as they travel up to Buffalo to take on the Sabres. It’s hard to believe it’s been just over four months since these two teams last met. Back on November 2, 2019, the Capitals defeated Buffalo by a score of 6-1.
On Saturday, a much-needed and hard-fought win came over the Pittsburgh Penguins as the Washington Capitals downed their rivals by a score of 5-2 for the 2nd time in three meetings this season. Before the game was two minutes old, Nic Dowd gave the Capitals an early 1-0 lead. Moments later, the two teams would play 4-on-4 as Sean Lafferty and Jonas Siegenthaler were called for matching minor penalties. The Penguins were gifted the first power play of the afternoon as Brenden Dillon was called for interference. Washington was then called for too-many-men, giving the Pens a minute and 25 seconds with the two-man advantage. Somehow, both minors were killed off. On the road, the Capitals have taken 149 penalties, which is the 2nd worst in the NHL. They rank 1st in most minor penalties and most times shorthanded. In their last two games, the Caps have taken 12 minor penalties, and Pittsburgh has been 7 for 7 on the power play at home against Washington this season. To make things worse, Braden Holtby is not great when starting against the Pens on the road. His last regular season win in PPG Paints Arena came back on December 14, 2015. On a perfect layup with 3:45 remaining in the period, Nicklas Backstrom made it 2-0 for Washington. Richard Panik, with his 9th of the season, gave the Capitals a 3-0 lead heading into the second period, at the 18:38 mark of the first. Former Penguin Carl Hagelin went off for hooking just about halfway through the match, but Pittsburgh failed to convert. Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins was called for holding to give the Capitals their first power play, with just over four minutes left in the period. Tom Wilson and Kris Letang became involved behind the play, and both received matching minors, to keep the Caps on the man-advantage. Jared McCann was stopped on a breakaway but was then given a penalty shot because he was interfered upon. Braden Holtby stopped McCann to keep the score 3-0. Just prior to the expiration of the period, a scrum would ensue around Holtby, and unfortunately, Brenden Dillon would be assessed a delay-of-game penalty for ‘intentionally dislodging the net’ off its moorings. The score would remain 3-0, with Washington leading, to start the 3rd period. Through two periods of play, Washington held the Penguins to just 13 shots on goal. The Capitals also led in hits, with 38, to Pittsburgh’s 17. The Penguins started the final frame with 1:35 left on the power play, but it was Nic Dowd, from Carl Hagelin, that would score short-handed to give the Capitals a four-spot lead. The home team, failing to convert on the man-advantage, would go 0-for-4 to start the third. Dowd’s two goals would mark his first career two-goal game. Sidney Crosby spoiled Braden Holtby’s shutout hopes as he potted his 16th goal of the season after Washington failed to clear. Immediately following, Holtby was challenged with three point-blank shots from the Pens. The Capitals went back on the penalty kill with 9:26 left as Dmitry Orlov was called for holding. Evgeni Malkin pulled his team within two goals on the Pens’ 5th power play with his 22nd of the season. Successfully dousing the growing flame of Penguins’ momentum was TJ Oshie who made it 5-2 just 56 seconds after the Pens power-play goal. The Penguins vacated their net to give them the extra skater with nearly three and a half minutes left, but would fail to add to their two goals. Braden Holtby allowed two goals on 26 shots to mark his 25th win of the season. Holtby is expected to start against the Sabres.
The Buffalo Sabres also played on Saturday, where they fell to the Philadelphia Flyers. Buffalo was hoping to stifle an eight-game Flyers winning streak, and a five-game losing skid of their own. Buffalo received the first power play of the night as Travis Sanheim was called for tripping less than two minutes into the first period. Buffalo’s 15th ranked road power play was unable to convert. Victor Olofsson leads his team with 11 power play goals, and Jack Eichel has 10 of his own. Eichel is the goal-scoring leader for the Sabres, as he has 35 goals in 66 games heading into his match versus the Flyers. Philadelphia then received their first power play, and the Sabres league-worst penalty kill kept the game scoreless. However, Buffalo went right back on the penalty kill as Colin Miller went off for holding, but the Flyers would fail to score. The second period was halfway over before the first goal was scored for either team. Claude Giroux with his 20th of the season gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead; a lead, that if maintained, would be the game-winning goal to extend the Flyers win streak to nine games. Dominik Kahun, who was recently acquired from the Penguins, made it a tie-game, with his 12th of the season, and first with the Sabres. Claude Giroux tallied his 2nd of the game at the 9:28 mark of the third period to break the tie, and give the Flyers back their lead. The Sabres received three consecutive power plays in the final frame, but were unable to convert on a single one. Joel Farabee, after being sent down to the AHL for a week, made it 3-1 Flyers with his 8th goal in the NHL. Buffalo went back on the penalty kill late as Rasmus Ristolainen was called for hooking. Carter Hutton allowed three goals on just 23 shots, to drop his fourth straight loss and sixth in seven starts. Linus Ullmark, however, will get the start for the Sabres.
The Buffalo Sabres are without the services of Matt Hunwick (IR-NR, neck), Vladimir Sobotka (DL, knee), Tage Thompson (DL, shoulder), and Lawrence Pilut (day-to-day, illness).
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.
TheScore. (2019). Buffalo Sabres News and Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/2
TheScore. (2020). Washington Capitals News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/15.