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Sabres Head to DC for Pre-Thanksgiving Tilt

Sep 24, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Buffalo Sabres forward Tyson Jost (17) skates with the puck as Washington Capitals forward Aliaksei Protas (21) defends during the second period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Game #19

Washington Capitals (9-4-2) vs. Buffalo Sabres (8-9-1)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | Capital One Arena | Washington, D.C.


Radio: WGR-550

Know Your Opponent

Washington Capitals

Record: 9-4-2

Last Game: 4-3 win over Blue Jackets

Division Ranking: 3rd, Metropolitan 

PP: 32nd, 7.0%

PK: 11th, 84.4%

What to Watch

1. Potentially, a Low-Scoring Affair

The Capitals enter Wednesday’s game with the second-fewest goals scored in the league, with just 37 tallies in 15 games. (To be fair, they’re also one of only two teams to have only played 15 games.) That said, the Sabres are also in the bottom quadrant of the league when it comes to goals-for, with 51 in 18 games. With those kinds of numbers on both sides, I wouldn’t expect Wednesday’s game to be a high-scoring event. (For full comparison’s sake: the Vancouver Canucks lead the league with 78 goals-for, an average of 4.11 goals/game. The Sabres are averaging 2.83 goals/game, while the Caps are at 2.47/game. The Sharks, at the bottom of the league, have averaged just 1.5 goals/game.)

2. You Already Know

This probably goes without saying, but the Sabres always need to keep a mindful eye on Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin is third in the league among active players with 66 career points against the Sabres, including 41 goals and 25 assists. His five game-winners against Buffalo are fourth-most among active players, too.

Other than Nicklas Bäckström, whose playing career may or may not be over, other current Caps players with histories of success against the Sabres include Evgeny Kuznetsov, who has 23 points in 29 games against Buffalo, and T.J. Oshie, with 20 points in 24 games. Kuznetsov recently missed a game due to illness, returned to practice (but not with either power play unit) and has an ‘undetermined’ status for Wednesday’s game. Ovechkin also briefly left Tuesday’s practice, but returned.

Also, quietly, but guys like Dylan Strome and Sonny Milano have small sample sizes against the Sabres, but currently average over a point-per-game when playing against Buffalo.

(Data via QuantHockey.)

3. How They Stack Up

The Sabres’ average shot speed this season: 55.86 mph, compared to 48.56 mph for the Capitals. Buffalo ranks below the 50th percentile in the league with regards to: top skating speed, shots on goal, shooting percentage, number of goals, and offensive zone time. In contrast, the Sabres have spent 18.3 percent of their time in the neutral zone, which is in the 90th percentile in the league at even-strength.

(Data via NHL EDGE.)

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres


Jeff Skinner – Dylan Cozens – Alex Tuch
JJ Peterka – Casey Mittelstadt – Zach Benson
Jordan Greenway – Tyson Jost – Victor Olofsson
Zemgus Girgensons – Peyton Krebs – Kyle Okposo


Rasmus Dahlin – Mattias Samuelsson
Owen Power – Ryan Johnson
Connor Clifton – Erik Johnson


Devon Levi, Eric Comrie, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

Washington Capitals


Alex Ovechkin – Dylan Strome – Tom Wilson
Anthony Mantha – Connor McMichael – T.J. Oshie
Sonny Milano – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Aliaksei Protas
Beck Malenstyn – Nic Dowd – Nicolas Aube-Kubel


Rasmus Sandin – John Carlson
Joel Edmundson – Nick Jensen
Alexander Alexeyev – Trevor van Riemsdyk


Darcy Kuemper, Charlie Lindgren