Capitals-Sabres Preview

The Buffalo Sabres are dealing with injuries to several regulars

and those absences may finally be catching up with them.

Buffalo looks to end a season-high three-game losing streak

Saturday night when it faces the Washington Capitals, losers of

three straight on the road.

Playing without four regular forwards, two defensemen and No. 1

goaltender Ryan Miller, the Sabres (12-9-1) matched their worst

loss of the season Friday, falling 5-1 at Western Conference-worst


Jhonas Enroth has filled in admirably in place of Miller

(concussion), but he was pulled early in the second period after

allowing four goals on 18 shots.

A bright spot for Buffalo was top prospect Zach Kassian getting

an assist in his NHL debut. Kassian was recalled from AHL Rochester

after Brad Boyes went down with a right leg injury in Wednesday’s

shootout loss to Boston.

Boyes joins fellow forwards Tyler Ennis (ankle), Patrick Kaleta

(lower body) and Cody McCormick (upper body) on the injury list,

along with defensemen Mike Weber (upper body) and Tyler Myers

(broken wrist).

To make matters worse, defenseman Robyn Regehr was injured

during Friday’s game and didn’t return.

“I don’t know if I’ve seen it this bad before,” coach Lindy

Ruff said. “I think we’ve got seven regulars out of the lineup. We

need to make better plays than we did tonight. Obviously when

you’re short-handed you’ve got to be good with the puck.”

Returning home may not necessarily be a cure for the Sabres, who

have lost three straight there. Buffalo’s six home regulation

losses are tied with Carolina and the New York Islanders for most

in the Eastern Conference.

Ruff will have to decide between going back to Enroth or giving

Drew MacIntyre his first NHL start. MacIntyre stopped 15 of 16

shots in relief Friday. Enroth gave up five goals on 35 shots in

his only appearance against the Capitals, a 5-4 overtime loss April


Washington (12-8-1) appeared to have righted itself with 4-3

wins over Phoenix and Winnipeg following a four-game losing streak,

but the Capitals allowed four second-period goals in Friday’s 6-3

home loss to the New York Rangers.

“Once it started with those four goals, it seemed to snowball,”

coach Bruce Boudreau said. “This is a league where you can’t feel

sorry for yourselves.”

The Capitals are 5-8-1 since opening the season 7-0-0 and have

been outscored 14-3 during three consecutive road losses.

Alex Ovechkin ended a six-game goal drought and tied Jason

Chimera for the team lead with his eighth of the season Friday –

his first goal at home. Ovechkin has yet to score goals in

back-to-back games this season.

With Michal Neuvirth allowing six goals on 33 shots Friday,

Boudreau figures to start Tomas Vokoun against Buffalo. Vokoun has

allowed six total goals while winning his last two starts.

Defenseman John Carlson scored Washington’s second goal Friday,

and the team’s first on a 5-on-4 power play in 31 attempts. Fellow

defenseman Mike Green, Washington’s regular power-play quarterback,

hasn’t played since Nov. 11 due to a groin injury.

The Capitals have won three straight against the Sabres and are

5-0-1 in the past six meetings. Nicklas Backstrom has four goals

and three assists for Washington in those six contests.