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
“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
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
“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
Semin leads Washington with four power-play goals, while
Ovechkin, Backstrom, Brooks Laich and defenseman Mike Green have
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.