Game Preview: Caps return to Buffalo, Richards to make his debut

t.j.-oshie-washington-capitals
Photo: Getty Images

The Capitals are back in Buffalo for the first time in just over two weeks to take on the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. It is the third and final meeting between the teams this season.  The Capitals will be wearing their home “reds” uniforms for tonight’s game. Puck drop tonight is at 7 p.m.

CaptureWashington carries a 2-0-0 record against the Sabres this season and shutout the Sabres the last time they met in Buffalo, on December 28. The Capitals are 17-6-4 against Buffalo since the beginning of the 2008-09 season and have earned a point in 10 of their last 11 contests against them with an 8-1-2 record.  Practice lines at morning skate:

Offensive Lines:
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Oshie
Burakovsky-Kuznetsov-Williams
Chimera-Johansson-Wilson
Sill-Richards-Latta

Defensive Pairs:
Alzner-Niskanen
Orlov-Schmidt
Ness-Chorney

It looks like Mike Richards will get his first start for the Caps.  Brooks Laich and Stanislav Galiev look to be the scratches.  According to Isabelle Khurshudyan, Trotz said Laich’s scratch is not related to his lack of point production (or injury). Trotz said he’ll probably be back in the lineup tomorrow.

The Capitals are coming off of a 4-1 win on Thursday night over the Vancouver Canucks. With the victory, Washington improved their record to 33-7-3 with 69 points, ranking first in the NHL in those two categories this season. The Sabres are coming off of a 4-1 home loss last night to the Boston Bruins. Buffalo is having a tough season as they are in last place in the Atlantic division with a 17-23-4 record with 38 points.

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Rick Stewart/Getty Images

When these two teams last faced off it was a home-and-home set. The Caps defeated the Sabres 2-0 in Buffalo on December 28 and 5-2 in D.C. on December 30. It was the first time since February 9-12, 2013 that the Capitals swept a home-and-home series. Alex Ovechkin scored three goals in those two games while Braden Holtby earned victories in both contests and recorded his 22nd career shutout in the first meeting (Dec. 28).

The Capitals, while very impressive at home with 11 straight wins, are also road warriors. This season they are 16-4-2 away from Verizon Center, ranking first in the league in road wins with 16. 34 road points, and a .773 point percentage; Washington has also earned a point in 14 of their last 16 road contests with a 12-2-2 record.

Michael Marzzacco

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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