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Preview: Capitals Begin 2023 With Buffalo

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Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals will face the Buffalo Sabres for the first time this season. Washington swept all three games with Buffalo last season and is 21-4-2 against them since 2015. Action from Capital One Arena can be seen on NBC Sports Washington+ in-market or ESPN+ out-of-market starting at 7 PM ET.

SCHEDULE

Buffalo: end three-game Eastern Conference road trip after splitting the first two games, stretch where six of seven games come on the road (5-1-0 so far)

Washington: wrap up three-game homestand where they play just Atlantic Division opponents after collecting three of four points in first two games, including a 9-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday

RECORDS

Buffalo: 18-15-2/.543 points percentage – fifth in Atlantic Division, 11th in Eastern Conference; 10-7-0 on road, T-15th in NHL

Washington: 21-13-5/.603 points percentage – third in Metropolitan Division (but fourth in points percentage), tied for fifth in Eastern Conference (seventh); 12-5-2 at home, fifth

HOW EACH TEAM IS DOING

Buffalo: 3-1 loss to Ottawa Senators on Sunday snapped six-game winning-streak but are 11-4-2 (.706 – tied for sixth) since November 21

Washington: have points in seven straight (6-0-1) and are 11-1-1 in last 13, 14-3-2 in their last 19 since dropping nine of their previous 11 (2-6-3)

TEAM LEADERS

Buffalo

  • C Tage Thompson (27 goals, 51 points)
  • D Rasmus Dahlin (28 assists, 26:18 TOI/game)

Notes: Thompson, 25, has done all of his scoring in the past 33 games after going scoreless in his first two this season but has just one goal in his last three; Dahlin, who has 10 goals this season, has just one helper in his last four; RW Alex Tuch has 10 goals, 28 points in his last 20, including five goals, 15 points in his last 10, and 39 points (17 goals) in 35 this season; LW Jeff Skinner, who saw a 10-game point-streak end (eight goals, 17 points) in Ottawa, has 12 goals, 24 points in his last 14; C Dylan Cozens, who has gone scoreless in three of his last five (one goal, three points), has 22 assists and 34 points in 35; LW Victor Olofsson has gone scoreless in five straight games; RW Kyle Okposo has four goals, five points in last five but no points in last two

Washington

Notes: Ovechkin, 37, has 24 goals and 40 points in his last 33, including 13 goals, 20 points, six multi-point efforts in his last 13; Kuznetsov, 30, has 14 assists and 17 points over his last 14, including two goal and 10 points in his last seven; D Erik Gustafsson has a +17 rating over his last 10 and six goals, 13 points over a seven-game point-streak; LW Conor Sheary has six assists, seven points over four-game point-streak; C Nic Dowd has five goals, eight points in his last nine; C Dylan Strome has four points over a four-game point-streak, including goals in back-to-back games; LW Marcus Johansson has three goals, six points in last six

KEY TEAM STATS

Goals-per-game:                 BUF – 3.91 (1st)             WSH – 3.26 (12th)

Goals-against per game:   BUF – 3.37 (22nd)         WSH – 2.72 (9th)

Power Play:                          BUF – 28% (3rd)           WSH – 21.9% (T-16th)

Penalty Kill:                         BUF – 72.9% (27th)      WSH – 81.3% (11th)

Shots-per-game:                 BUF – 32.1 (T-12th)      WSH – 31.6 (17th)

Shots-against per game:   BUF – 33 (25th)             WSH – 30.6 (12th)

Faceoff-winning %:           BUF – 45.3% (32nd)      WSH – 48.8% (T-21st)

5v5 Corsi-for %:                 BUF – 51.82% (8th)       WSH – 50.65% (16th)

5v5 x Goals-For %:            BUF – 49.09% (22nd)   WSH – 51.37% (15th)

5v5 SCF %:                          BUF – 49.78% (21st)     WSH – 51.15% (T-13th)

5v5 Shooting %:                 BUF – 9.72% (3rd)        WSH – 8.4% (15th)

5v5 Save %:                         BUF – .9164 (18th)        WSH – .9245 (8th)

5v5 PDO:                             BUF – 1.014 (T-5th)       WSH – 1.009 (T-8th)

EXPECTED STARTING GOALTENDERS

Buffalo: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, 23 — 7-3-1, .896 save percentage, 3.35 goals-against average in 11 games this season; 40 saves (.952 save percentage) in lone career appearance vs. Washington, a 3-2 shootout loss on December 11, 2021

Washington: Darcy Kuemper, 32 — 10-9-3, .920 save percentage, 2.47 goals-against average, three shutouts in 23 games; 3-1-0, .911 save percentage, 2.66 goals-against average in four career games vs. Buffalo

INJURIES/ILLNESSES

Buffalo

  • G Eric Comrie (knee, expected to miss 19th straight game, out week-to-week)

Washington

  • Carlson (upper-body, fourth, indefinite)
  • RW Connor Brown (ACL, 36th, indefinite)
  • LW Carl Hagelin (hip, 40th, indefinite)
  • RW Tom Wilson (ACL, 40th, indefinite)
  • C Nicklas Backstrom (hip, 40th, indefinite)

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Buffalo

Skinner — Thompson — Tuch
Jack Quinn — Cozens — J.J. Peterka
Casey Mittlestadt — Tyson Jost — Olofsson
Zemgus Girgensons — Peyton Krebs — Okposo

Mattias Samuelsson — Dahlin
Owen Power — Kale Clague
Ilya Lybushkin — Jacob Bryson

Luukkonen
Craig Anderson

Scratched: RW Vinnie Hinostroza, LW Rasmus Asplund, D Casey Fitzgerald

Washington

Ovechkin — Kuznetsov — Sheary
Sonny Milano — Strome — Anthony Mantha
Johansson — Lars Eller — T.J. Oshie
Aliaksei Protas — Dowd — Garnet Hathaway

Gustafsson — Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Dmitry Orlov — Nick Jensen
Martin Fehervary — Matt Irwin

Kuemper
Charlie Lindgren

Scratched: LW Joe Snively, RW Nicolas Aube-Kubel, D Alexander Alexeyev

By Harrison Brown



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