Capitals-Sabres Preview

Washington Capitals forward Alexander Semin has never registered

a point in Buffalo. His coach and teammates have a strong feeling

that could change.

Semin and the Eastern Conference-leading Capitals look to extend

their season-high winning streak to seven Saturday when the Buffalo

Sabres try to use momentum from a solid trip to post their first

victory at HSBC Arena.

Third in scoring behind teammates Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas

Backstrom during each of the past two seasons, Semin has been the

Capitals’ No. 1 scoring option lately. The 26-year-old, who leads

the club with 12 goals – three more than Ovechkin – has scored

seven times and notched six assists during the winning streak.

Semin recorded his second hat trick of the season and matched a

career high with five points in Thursday’s 6-3 victory over Tampa

Bay. He had three goals and an assist in the final 15:27.

“(Semin) is pretty on right now,” said coach Bruce Boudreau,

whose team is scoring 5.0 goals per game – 1.4 more than its

league-leading average – during its surge.

Semin has no points in six career games visiting the Sabres, but

his teammates wouldn’t be surprised if he makes a major impact in

this matchup.

“He’s a sniper out there,” said Backstrom, who equaled a career

best with four assists Thursday and is tied with Ovechkin with a

team-high 14. “He can score. I haven’t seen Alex play as well as he

is right now.”

While Washington (12-4-0) tries to reach the midway point of its

franchise-record 14-game run that ended Feb. 10, the Sabres (5-9-3)

open a home-heavy portion of their schedule with plenty of

confidence.

Despite reigning Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller being

sidelined with a knee injury, Buffalo earned five of six points on

a trip that ended Thursday with a 3-2 overtime loss to the New York

Rangers.

“It’s something to build off of,” rookie Jhonas Enroth said

after turning away 25 shots in his third consecutive start.

“Hopefully we can take how we play on the road back home.”

The Sabres, who will travel just twice for the rest of the month

– including a matchup in the nation’s capital Wednesday – will

likely have Miller in net for the first time in seven games as they

try to snap their worst home start (0-6-1) since 1993-94.

Outscored 25-13 at HSBC Arena, Buffalo will look for a better

conversion rate on the power play after going 0 for 11 in its last

four games overall.

The Sabres, though, have killed 15 of 16 power-play chances in

November. That success could be tested against a Capitals club

that’s 9 for 22 with the man advantage during its winning

streak.

Semin leads Washington with four power-play goals, while

Ovechkin, Backstrom, Brooks Laich and defenseman Mike Green have

two apiece.

Ovechkin, who has five goals and 10 assists during an eight-game

point streak, has no points in his last three games in Buffalo.

Sabres leading scorer Derek Roy scored twice and added three

assists on the road trip, but he has been held scoreless in the

last three home games.

Michal Neuvirth is 4-0-0 in five starts during Washington’s win

streak despite posting a 3.05 goals-against average.