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Sabres head to Washington for their final meeting with the Capitals

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The Sabres are 1-5-1 against the East Division leaders this season

Washington Capitals v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

Game 43

Buffalo Sabres (10-25-7) vs. Washington Capitals (28-11-4)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | Capital One Arena | Washington, DC

TV: MSG-B

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Capitals Blog: Jasper’s Rink

Know Your Opponent

Washington Capitals

Record: 28-11-4

Last 10: 6-4-0

Division Ranking: 1st in the East

PP: 2nd (27.4%)

PK: 7th (83.1%)

What To Watch

1. Continued Growth

It’s no secret that the Sabres are a more enjoyable team to watch as of late. They’ve collected 11 of a possible 18 points in their past nine games, and their young assets have made a noticeable impact. Over the last 14 games of the season, fans should look for that trend to continue.

As of Tuesday evening’s shootout loss to the Boston Bruins, Don Granato featured two separate forward lines exclusively made up of players under the age of 25. The de facto second line of Casey Mittelstadt, Rasmus Asplund, and Tage Thompson have been extremely impressive, and the trio of Dylan Cozens, Anders Bjork, and Arttu Ruotsalainen showed flashes of success in Bjork’s first game with the team.

2. More Tokarski

After Linus Ullmark left Tuesday’s contest with an apparent upper-body injury, it seems as though he’s going to miss some time. With Carter Hutton still injured, and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen nicked-up in Rochester, Michael Houser will serve as the team’s backup tonight.

While Tokarski isn’t exactly an ideal candidate between the pipes (to put it lightly), he’s been far from embarrassing in his six starts with the blue-and-gold. Despite his 0-4-2 record, he’s has stopping shots at a .905 rate.

Again, it’s not great, but we’re talking about a guy who last appeared in the NHL in 2016, so....

3. Stay Disciplined

After a really nice start to the season, the Sabres’ penalty-kill has slipped as of late. Tonight would be an excellent time to try and regain their early-season success as they square-off against one of the best power-play units in the NHL.

I’d suggest that the plummeting power-play unit try to find their mojo as well, but they have floundered badly sans Jack Eichel, and it would be a surprise to see them finally pick things up against the seventh-ranked unit in the league.

Long story short - stay out of the penalty box.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Jeff Skinner - Sam Reinhart - Victor Olofsson

Rasmus Asplund - Casey Mittelstadt - Tage Thompson

Anders Bjork - Dylan Cozens - Arttu Ruotsalainen

Riley Sheahan - Cody Eakin - Kyle Okposo

Defense

Jacob Bryson - Rasmus Ristolainen

Rasmus Dahlin - Henri Jokiharju

Matt Irwin - Colin Miller

Starting Goalie: Dustin Tokarski

Washington Capitals

Forwards

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson

Anthony Mantha - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Conor Sheary - Lars Eller - Daniel Sprong

Carl Hagelin - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway

Defense

Dmitri Orlov - John Carlson

Brenden Dillon - Justin Schultz

Zdeno Chara - Nick Jensen

Starting Goalie: Vitek Vanecek