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Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres Pick & Prediction JAN 15TH 2021

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Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres Recap JAN 15TH 2021

Dominik Kahun scored in the seventh round of a shootout to give the Buffalo Sabres a 3-2 victory over the visiting Washington Capitals on Monday.

Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark stopped 33 of 35 shots during open play and then made six more saves during the shootout. It was an impressive return for Ullmark, who was playing for the first time in 18 games due to a lower-body injury.

The victory ended Buffalo's six-game (0-6-0) winless streak.

The Sabres salvaged the victory despite blowing a 2-0 lead through two periods. Alexander Ovechkin had two points for the Capitals (41-20-8, 90 points) during a lopsided third period that saw Washington outshoot Buffalo by a 16-5 margin.

Ovechkin scored 3:33 into the final period, recording his 48th goal of the season to tie Boston's David Pastrnak for the league scoring lead. Ovechkin's 706 career goals put him two scores behind Mike Gartner for seventh place on the NHL's all-time scoring list.

Dmitry Orlov drew the Capitals even at the 13:11 mark, firing a shot that banked off the skate of Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.

Washington has just one win (1-1-2) over its last four games, though the point earned by the overtime loss was enough to put the Capitals back into sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Buffalo (30-31-8, 68 points) took the lead 4:53 into the first period, with Victor Olofsson collecting his 20th goal of the season. Olofsson hadn't scored in his previous eight games.

Jack Eichel had gone seven games without a single point heading into Monday's action -- a career-long drought for the star forward. However, Eichel snapped that streak less than a minute into the second period, as some outstanding passing during a Sabres power play left Eichel with an open net.

Eichel's team-leading 36th goal ended both his own slump and the Sabres' 0-for-17 slide on power play chances over their previous seven games.

Rasmus Dahlin assisted on both Buffalo goals.

Braden Holtby saved 24 of 26 shots in Washington's net.

--Field Lebel Media

The Washington Capitals did not have much trouble scoring goals Thursday in their season-opening victory at Buffalo. They won't have long to wait for another chance to produce against the Sabres.

The Capitals, who prevailed 6-4 on Thursday, will play in Buffalo again on Friday. Washington and Buffalo will face each other four times over their first six contests in the abbreviated 56-game season.

Washington provided a reminder of why it ranked second in the NHL last season with an average of 3.42 goals per game. T.J. Oshie had a goal and two assists, John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom each recorded one goal and one assist, and Alex Ovechkin added two assists.

The Capitals' other goal-scorers were Brenden Dillon, Jakub Vrana and Garnet Hathaway.

"Great game, great first win. Outstanding job," coach Peter Laviolette said after his Capitals debut. "There is a lot more than just me that got changed over and a lot of new pieces in there, and I think (the victory) is really important for our team."

Washington will now try to win consecutive contests at Buffalo for the first time since a three-game run of matchups from January 2014 to December 2015.

Ilya Samsonov, who has taken over the No. 1 netminder duties for Washington, made 22 saves on Thursday in his first appearance against Buffalo. He went 16-6-2 with a 2.55 goals-against average last season.

Capitals backup goalie Vitek Vanecek could make his NHL debut Friday to conclude the back-to-back set.

Taylor Hall recorded a goal and an assist in his Sabres debut, and Jake McCabe and Victor Olofsson matched those stats. Tobias Rieder also scored while Jack Eichel posted two assists for Buffalo, which last dropped its first two games of the season in 2017-18.

While the addition of Hall seems to have provided a boost in the offensive zone, defense again appears to be an issue for Buffalo. In 2019-20, the Sabres ranked 24th in the league with an average of 3.16 goals allowed per contest.

Though there is an obvious need for improvement, especially on defense, if Buffalo is to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010-11, coach Ralph Krueger didn't sound overly concerned.

"We expected rust and there was rust, and we expected an adjustment to the physicality and the speed," he said. "You can't simulate this in practice. I'd say all of us as a group just needed an adjustment period. The result isn't pleasing, but we saw how we needed to play at the end."

Buffalo got 22 saves from Carter Hutton in the opener. It's likely, though, that Linus Ullmark would get the start for the Sabres on Friday. Ullmark, who went 17-14-3 with a 2.69 goals-against average in 34 starts last season, is 1-2-0 with a 3.27 GAA in his career against the Capitals.

The Sabres could be without veteran forward Eric Staal, who sustained an apparent head injury in the Thursday contest on a third-period hit to the head by the Capitals' Nic Dowd. The referees assessed Dowd a two-minute penalty.

"Quite surprised that a hit to the head gets two minutes, but it is what it is," Krueger said.

--Field Level Media

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GAMES

Last 10

W 40% L 60%
4 6
  • Buffalo L 4 - 3
  • Buffalo W 3 - 4
  • @Pittsburgh L 4 - 5
  • @Pittsburgh L 3 - 4
  • @Buffalo W 2 - 1
  • @Buffalo W 6 - 4
  • NY Islanders L 4 - 0
  • @NY Islanders W 3 - 2
  • @NY Islanders L 1 - 2
  • NY Islanders L 5 - 2
W 30% L 70%
3 7
  • @Washington W 4 - 3
  • @Washington L 3 - 4
  • @Philadelphia L 0 - 3
  • @Philadelphia W 6 - 1
  • Washington L 2 - 1
  • Washington L 6 - 4
  • Washington W 2 - 3
  • @Philadelphia L 1 - 3
  • Pittsburgh L 4 - 2
  • @Winnipeg L 1 - 3

Next Games

  • NY Islanders(08-20-20) L 4 - 0
  • NY Islanders(08-20-20) L 4 - 0
  • Boston(08-09-20) W 1 - 2
  • Boston(08-09-20) W 1 - 2
  • NY Rangers(02-15-19) L 6 - 2
  • NY Rangers(02-15-19) L 6 - 2
  • New Jersey(12-02-19) W 1 - 7
  • New Jersey(12-02-19) W 1 - 7

Last Meetings

  • Sabres @ Capitals 4-3
  • Sabres @ Capitals 3-4
  • Capitals @ Sabres 2-1
  • Capitals @ Sabres 6-4
  • Capitals @ Sabres 2-3
  • Sabres @ Capitals 1-6
  • Capitals @ Sabres 2-5
  • Sabres @ Capitals 1-2
  • Sabres @ Capitals 3-4
  • Sabres @ Capitals 1-5

Eastern Conference

AtlanticWL OTPTSHOMEAWAYGFGAST L10
Toronto Maple Leafs52010 3-0-12-0-12219L15-0-2
Montreal Canadiens4019 0-0-04-0-02918L14-0-0
Tampa Bay Lightning3106 2-0-01-0-11510L13-0-1
Boston Bruins3117 2-0-01-0-11510L23-0-1
Florida Panthers2004 2-0-00-0-0106W22-0-0
Buffalo Sabres2304 0-0-22-0-11819L22-0-3
Detroit Red Wings2404 2-0-20-0-21220L22-0-4
Ottawa Senators1313 1-0-20-0-11420L41-0-3

Western Conference

CentralWL OTPTSHOMEAWAYGFGAST L10
Winnipeg Jets4208 2-0-12-0-12217L14-0-2
Minnesota Wild4208 1-0-13-0-11815L14-0-2
St. Louis Blues3206 2-0-11-0-11723L13-0-2
Colorado Avalanche3306 1-0-12-0-21815L13-0-3
Dallas Stars2004 2-0-00-0-0102W22-0-0
Chicago Blackhawks2315 2-0-00-0-31923L42-0-3
Nashville Predators2304 2-0-10-0-21217L32-0-3

Eastern Conference

MetropolitanWL OTPTSHOMEAWAYGFGAST L10
Pittsburgh Penguins4208 4-0-00-0-22123L24-0-2
Washington Capitals3017 1-0-02-0-02221L13-0-0
New Jersey Devils3106 2-0-01-0-11111L13-0-1
Philadelphia Flyers3206 3-0-10-0-12022L23-0-2
New York Islanders3206 2-0-01-0-298L13-0-2
Carolina Hurricanes2104 0-0-02-0-196L12-0-1
Columbus Blue Jackets2226 1-0-01-0-21518L22-0-2
New York Rangers1302 1-0-20-0-11315L31-0-3

Western Conference

PacificWL OTPTSHOMEAWAYGFGAST L10
Vegas Golden Knights51010 4-0-01-0-11912L15-0-1
San Jose Sharks3306 0-0-03-0-31921L13-0-3
Edmonton Oilers3406 1-0-32-0-11923L13-0-4
Calgary Flames2115 2-0-10-0-0139L12-0-1
Los Angeles Kings2226 1-0-11-0-12020L12-0-2
Anaheim Ducks2226 2-0-10-0-11114L22-0-2
Arizona Coyotes2304 2-0-10-0-21719L12-0-3
Vancouver Canucks2504 1-0-21-0-32033L22-0-5

Last Injuries

Buffalo Sabres

  • Carter Hutton

    Upper Body
    Ques Tues | questionable

    Hutton has sat out the last two games with an upper-body injury, and it is unclear if he will take part in Tuesday's contest versus the Rangers.

  • Kyle Okposo

    Lower Body
    Prob Sun | I-R

    Okposo has been assigned to the injured reserve list due to a lower-body injury, but it is projected that he will return to the lineup Sunday against the Capitals.

  • Linus Ullmark

    Personal
    Ques Fri | questionable

    Ullmark has missed the previous two games due to personal reasons, and it remains to be seen if he will be available Friday versus the Capitals.

  • Riley Sheahan

    Illness
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Sheahan is on the injured reserve list while going through the COVID-19 protocol, and he will miss an undetermined length of time.

  • Casey Nelson

    Personal
    Out for season | out

    Nelson has made a personal decision and has opted out of the 2020-21 season.

  • Eric Staal

    Face
    Prob Fri | probable

    Staal is dealing with a jaw injury, but it is likely that he will lace up for Friday's battle with the Capitals.

  • Curtis Lazar

    Lower Body
    Prob Thurs | probable

    Lazar is battling a lower-body injury, but it is expected that he will lace up for Thursday's matchup with the Capitals.

Washington Capitals

  • Tom Wilson

    Lower Body
    Ques Tues | questionable

    Wilson was held out of the last game with a lower-body injury, and it remains to be seen if he will suit up Tuesday against the Islanders.

  • Alex Ovechkin

    Illness
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Ovechkin has been placed on the NHL's COVID protocol list, and there is no timetable for return.

  • Ilya Samsonov

    Illness
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Orlov is on the COVID-19 protocol list, and it is unknown how long he will be out of action.

  • Dmitry Orlov

    Illness
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Orlov will miss an undetermined length of time while on the COVID-19 protocol list.

  • Evgeny Kuznetsov

    Illness
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Kuznetov has been designated for the COVID-19 protocol list, and it is uncertain when he will return to action.

  • Ilya Samsonov

    Rest
    Doub Tues | doubtful

    Samsonov is not expected to take part in Tuesday's game against the Penguins due to a day of rest.

  • Beck Malenstyn

    Achilles
    Early July | I-R

    Malenstyn is expected to be sidelined for six to eight months and has been added to the injured reserve list after surgery to repair an Achilles tear.

  • Henrik Lundqvist

    Heart
    Out for season | I-R

    Lundqvist has been designated for the injured reserve and will not be available for the entire season after recovering from open heart surgery.