Sabres get back in action with road test vs. Caps

( – After having a home game scrapped due to a massive snow
storm, the Buffalo Sabres will aim for a season-high third straight victory
when they visit the Washington Capitals for Saturday’s clash at Verizon

Buffalo posted recent home wins over Toronto and San Jose, giving the
rebuilding Sabres consecutive victories for the first time this season. The
club hasn’t won three straight since Feb. 25-28.

The Sabres were going to try and complete a perfect three-game homestand in
Friday’s scheduled meeting with the New York Rangers, but the game was
postponed thanks to extreme weather in the Buffalo area. The game has been
rescheduled for Feb. 20, while Buffalo’s originally scheduled tilt against
Ottawa that night was pushed up to Dec. 15.

Buffalo earned two of its five victories this season by picking up a pair of
lopsided wins over the Maple Leafs and Sharks. The Sabres slammed Toronto by a
6-2 score last Saturday and then posted a 4-1 decision Tuesday against San
Jose. The win over the Sharks pushed Buffalo’s all-time record in the series
to 16-1-0.

Brian Gionta scored twice to lead Buffalo past the Sharks, while Brian Flynn
tallied a goal and an assist. Nicolas Deslauriers also scored for the Sabres,
who played in front of the roughly 6,200 people who were able to make it
through the snow to First Niagara Center.

“We didn’t let our emotions get away from us and lose the game,” Gionta said
of his team’s composure.

Jhonas Enroth turned aside 19 shots in relief of Michal Neuvirth, who departed
with a lower-body injury after the first period. Neuvirth stopped all 10 shots
he faced.

With Neuvirth injured, Enroth will get the start tonight with Nathan Lieuwen
serving as the backup. Enroth is 1-0-3 with a 3.37 goals against average in
four career starts against the Capitals.

Patrick Kaleta expects to play tonight after being forced to miss Tuesday’s
game. Kaleta wasn’t injured, but rather snowed in at his house and unable to
make it the arena.

Washington also enters Saturday aiming for a third consecutive victory. The
Capitals set a season-high with a three-game winning streak from Nov. 7-11 and
have won five of their last seven games.

The Caps won the final two tests of a three-game road trip, picking up wins in
Arizona and Colorado.

Alex Ovechkin scored with 5:56 left in the third period to lift Washington to
Thursday’s 3-2 decision over the Avalanche.

Ovechkin received a pass from Brooks Orpik and made his way around Avalanche
defenseman Jan Hejda. Ovechkin fired the puck wide but took the carom off the
end boards and scored from the side of the net.

“It was a lucky bounce,” said Ovechkin. “Obviously when I (made) a move I
didn’t see the goalie was a little bit up so I would probably keep skating and
put it in the empty net, but luck was on my side and I was able to put it

Nicklas Backstrom and Ovechkin each had one goal and an assist for the
Capitals, while Jason Chimera also lit the lamp. Braden Holtby stopped 27-
of-29 shots in the win.

Holtby is likely to start in net tonight and is 3-1-1 with a 3.53 GAA in five
lifetime starts against Buffalo.

The Sabres won two of three meetings against the Caps last season, but
Washington has claimed four of six and five of the past eight encounters.
Buffalo has lost seven of nine in D.C.

Washington is 4-3-3 as the home club this season, while the Sabres own a 2-7-0
mark on the road.