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
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.