Capitals hope to end slide against visiting Sabres
WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres one day after Thanksgiving. There's been little worth showing thanks for the Capitals ever since while the Sabres won two of their last three.
Washington (13-7-3) lost its third straight game Saturday as Tampa Bay prevailed 2-1. The Capitals had little success against Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, who had 34 saves through overtime.
The latest setback came after a 3-0 home loss against the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Capitals are back in their building for Monday's matchup with the Sabres.
“We're looking for that real precise goal,” Coach Barry Trotz told the Washington Post following Saturday's road loss. “Sometimes you've just got to simplify a little bit. Just shoot the puck. We've got some good shooters. Right now, they're a little bit dry.”
The Capitals are averaging 2.52 goals, which tied them with the Islanders for 18th entering Sunday. Washington ranked second with 3.02 goals last season.
Stalwart Alex Ovechkin is among the league-leader with 12 goals, but the wing threat hasn't scored since recording a hat trick on Nov. 23 against the St. Louis Blues.
“We need to be more gritty and go in front of the net,” center Nicklas Backstrom said. “Instead of all three guys trying to cycle the puck all of the time, we need at least one guy in front of the net for shots and then rebounds. I mean, that's the kind of goals that go in these days. We have to be able to go in front of the net and go to the dirty areas and create second chances.”
Daniel Winnik, Marcus Johansson and Brett Connolly scored for the Capitals in the Nov. 25 win over the Sabres.
Buffalo (9-10-5) rebounded with nine combined goals in back-to-back wins before falling 2-1 Saturday against the Boston Bruins.
While the loss wasn't the desired result, the lone goal scored was something of a positive development because of who found the net.
Evander Kane, who missed time this season after suffering four cracked ribs in the season opener, scored for the first time in 13 games this campaign.
“It was just good to get the first one out of the way,” Kane told the Buffalo News following the home loss. “When you have multiple games together and you don't score, being a goal-scorer that's a slump. I feel I have an opportunity to score every game, so it was just nice to get it.”
The left wing had 20 goals in 65 games in 2015-16. Kane has points in three straight games.
“The one thing we keep working and urging Evander to do is shoot the puck,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said Saturday, per the Buffalo News. “He hasn't shot the puck this year the way he normally does, and he's had opportunities to do it.”
Buffalo will play without Josh Gorges for several weeks following the revelation from Bylsma that the defenseman suffered a non-displaced foot fracture after blocking a shot Thursday against the New York Rangers. Gorges, a steady part of Buffalo's rotation, sat out Saturday's loss.