Game 38 Preview: Caps at Buffalo Sabres

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, December 30, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (23-11-3-49, first in Southeast) travel to upstate New York to visit the Buffalo Sabres (17-14-5, third in Northeast) at 7:00 PM from the HSBC Arena.

The Caps are one of the league's hottest teams in December having won 10 of their last 12 games, including Sunday night's dispatching of Toronto, 4-1, before a packed house. The sellout crowd was also treated to the retirement ceremony of Mike Gartner's number 11. Brooks Laich and Alex Ovechkin each had a pair of goals in the contest.

The Capitals' previous win to that was over these same Sabres, last Friday night, 3-2. Viktor Kozlov, Boyd Gordon, and Ovechkin all scored in that one, and Jose Theodore played well in the victory.

In fact, Theodore has experienced a renaissance of sorts in the last three games. Since being pulled in the first period against the Rangers last Tuesday, Theodore has stopped 64 out 68 shots on goal and has earned the win in each of the last three games.

Brent Johnson returns from injury to back up Theodore. Simeon Varlamov was returned to AHL Hershey following the Toronto game.

The revolving injury door keeps swinging for the Caps. Returning last game were defensemen Mike Green and Jeff Schultz, but Matt Bradley took a hard hit into the boards and left the game woozy, and Karl Alzner took a couple shots to his hand. Both are questionable for tonight's game.

Tyler Sloan was sent out to make room for Green and Schultz, but might be recalled if Alzner can not go.

Alex Ovechkin was named NHL first star of the week for last week. He tallied five goals and an assist in three games. For the season, he has 49 points (25 goals, 24 assists) in 35 games.

Buffalo is expected to start Ryan Miller in goal. He missed Friday night's game in DC. Miller is 15-9-5, 2.62, .911 in 29 games this season.

Thomas Vanek (25-7-32, -3), Derek Roy (11-20-31, even), and Jason Pominville (10-17-27, -2) pace the Sabres, who lost two of three last week.

WAS: PP-5th (22.9%, 35/153); PK-23rd (79.9%, 35/174)
BUF: PP-12th (19.6%, 32/163); PK-4th (87.0%, 19/146)

WAS: D John Erskine (Concussion-IR); D Brian Pothier (Concussion-OUT); C Sergei Federov (Ankle-IR); D Tom Poti (Groin-IR); LW Alexander Semin (Back-IR); Tomas Fleischmann (Pneumonia-OUT); Karl Alzner (Hand-Questionable); Matt Bradley (Head/Neck-Questionable)

BUF: D Craig Rivet (Upper body-IR); C Tim Connolly (Ribs-IR); C Paul Gaustad (Upper body-IR); C Nathan Gerbe (Upper body-IR); RW Patrick Kaleta (Head-Out)