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Sabres vs Capitals Game Preview: Still Hurting on Defense

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Sabres and Caps meet for the first time this season

NHL: Washington Capitals at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Game #15

Buffalo Sabres (4-8-2) vs. Washington Capitals (8-6-1)

Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. EST | Key Bank Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: NBCSN

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Capitals blog: Jaspers Rink

What to Watch

1. Nick Baptiste will make his season debut.

After sitting out the games against the Coyotes and Stars. Nick Baptiste is expected to make his season debut with the Sabres tonight. With Justin Bailey being put on IR today it’s possible that Baptiste will stick around for a little while. He’ll be on a line tonight with Sam Reinhart and Seth Griffith. Matt Moulson is the projected healthy scratch tonight.

2. Still hurting on defense.

The Sabres will still be without Rasmus Ristolainen, Nathan Beaulieu, Josh Gorges and Zach Bogosian tonight against another high powered offensive team in the Capitals. We saw how tonight’s defense held up against the Stars on Saturday. Fingers crossed tonight is different.

On the good news side, both Beaulieu and Gorges participated in the morning skate. Indicating they’re likely close to returning. Also, Zach Redmond was called up to be the extra defenseman just in case.

3. Lehner has an opportunity for redemption.

Robin Lehner will start again tonight for the Sabres. After getting the hook in Dallas in the first period allowing three goals on seven shots. He’ll have an opportunity to get back on track tonight. Both Sabres goaltenders currently have a save percentage under .900. That needs to change quick, fast and in a hurry.

Know Your Opponent

1. Is Alex Ovechkin getting hot again?

Ovechkin started off the season red hot with seven goals in the first two games of the season. After that he cooled off a little scoring only once in eight games. However, the star forward has scored in two straight games heading into tonight. He has 12 goals on the season which ranks him tied for second in the league with John Tavares. Only behind Nikita Kucherov who has 14.

2. Getting the backup.

The Sabres will face the Capitals backup Philipp Grubauer tonight after Brayden Holtby played last night against the Arizona Coyotes. Usually, a steady backup Grubauer is off to a rough start this season. He’s yet to win a game going 0-3-1 so far this season with a .876 save percentage and 4.08 goals against average in five appearances.

Projected Lineup

9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 29 Jason Pominville

67 Benoit Pouliot - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo

13 Nick Baptiste - 23 Sam Reinhart - 25 Seth Griffith

28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 17 Jordan Nolan

6 Marco Scandella - 41 Justin Falk

19 Jake McCabe - 27 Taylor Fedun

93 Victor Antipin - 5 Matt Tennyson

Starting Goaltender: 40 Robin Lehner

(P.S.: Writing that defense lineup out made me shiver.)