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Sabres Host Caps With Hopes to Snap Six-Game Losing Streak

Buffalo will also celebrate first ever Native American Heritage Night at KeyBank Center

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Game 27

Buffalo Sabres (8-15-3) vs. Washington Capitals (16-5-6)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Caps Blog: Japer’s Rink

Know Your Opponent

Washington Capitals

Record: 16-5-6 | 38 PTS

Last Game: 4-2 loss vs. Penguins

Division Ranking: 1st in Metropolitan Division

PP: 22nd (17.1%)

PK: 8th (83.1%)

What to Watch

1. Who’s Missing? Or Rather, Who’s Left?

The Sabres will be facing the Capitals, who may be short quite a few key players tonight - either absent from illness, COVID protocol, or injury - including forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson, among several others. Buffalo could really use a break as they have been on a downward spiral since the week of Thanksgiving. While they are facing challenges with injuries themselves (and, don’t even get me started on goaltending...), Washington is really struggling with these absences and are coming off of a home loss against Pittsburgh last night. Another note from last night worth pointing out: the Caps had trouble getting things going until the third period. If the Sabres can get on the board first tonight, they may have a chance to beat a normally very talented, stacked team.

2. Sabres’ First Ever Native American Heritage Night

Western New York Native Americans will be honored at tonight’s game through various presentations of live music, artwork, and dance. Local artist Carson Waterman has also created a custom logo for the night to commemorate the Seneca Nation in collaboration with the Buffalo Sabres. The limited edition logo features a colorful headdress, long braids, and eagle feather to represent the different Nations of the Iroquois. Fans can shop merchandise with the logo on ShopOneBuffalo. Proceeds will go to the Native American Community Services of Erie and Niagara Counties.

Former Sabres coach Ted Nolan will also be at the Buffalo Creek Casino to meet with fans prior to puck drop along with alumni Cody McCormick and Jason Dawe.

3. Alexander the Great

This is incredibly predictable, but fans (and players) should keep a close eye on Ovechkin tonight. The star forward is on pace to surpass Jaromir Jagr for third overall in NHL goals scored (behind Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe, respectively). This season alone, he is already at 20 goals and 23 assists and +19. What an absolute beast.

After 26 games so far this season, Washington has not gone more than one game without a point. After last night’s loss against the Penguins, they will look to keep that streak going against Buffalo.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Victor Olofsson

Rasmus Asplund - Dylan Cozens - Kyle Okposo

Zemgus Girgensons - Cody Eakin - John Hayden

Brett Murray - Mark Jankowski - Vinnie Hinostroza

Defense

Rasmus Dahlin - Henri Jokiharju

Will Butcher - Mark Pysyk

Jacob Bryson - Colin Miller

Starting Goaltender: Ukko-Pekka Luukonen (expected)

Washington Capitals

Forwards

Alexander Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson*

Conor Sheary - Lars Eller - Daniel Sprong

Michael Sgarbossa - Connor McMichael - T.J. Oshie

Beck Malenstyn - Aliaksei Protas - Brett Leason

Defense

Martin Fehervary* - John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov - Nick Jensen

Matt Irwin - Justin Schultz

Starting Goaltender: Vitek Vanecek**

*Wilson and Fehervary left Friday night’s game, both with an upper body injury. The Caps may need to look to the Hershey Bears to call up more players. TBD.

**Vanecek is 6-1-1 against the Sabres with a 2.34 GAA and .923 save percentage.