The Washington Capitals take to the road on Monday following their 2-0 win over the Boston Bruins at Verizon Center on Sunday evening. The three-game road trip starts in Buffalo, where the Caps will face the Sabres at First Niagara Center. So let's go to our abbreviated prognosto...
This, the third meeting of the seasons between the clubs, will be the last until next season. The Caps and Sabres split their first two games of the season series, the Sabres taking a 2-1 decision on November 22nd, the Caps winning the second meeting by a 6-1 score nine days ago. Not much has changed since the last time these two teams met, so check our prognosto and game summary (at Japers’ Rink) from the March 7th game for some particulars.
Since then, here are some random facts to ponder…
-- The Caps are 1-2-0 since beating the Sabres and have scored just five goals in those three games. It is the second time in a space of ten games that the Caps have been held to five goals over a three-game span. They scored five in three consecutive losses, February 22-27: to Philadelphia (3-2), to Pittsburgh (4-3, and to Carolina (3-0).
-- Buffalo has lost both games played since losing to the Caps nine days ago, to Toronto (4-3 in a Gimmick) and to the New York Rangers (2-0). The Sabres have lost six in a row coming into this game (0-5-1).
-- Buffalo has not scored a power play goal on home ice in a month. Their last power play goal at First Niagara Center was scored by Nikita Zadorov in a 2-1 loss to Philadelphia. Since then, the Sabre’s power play is 0-for-10 on home ice, 1-for-23 overall (4.3 percent).
-- The Caps scored on their only power play against the Bruins on Sunday night, making it power play goals in six of their last seven games (7-for-15/46.7 percent).
-- Washingon’s penalty kill was perfect against the Bruins last night (4-for-4). The Caps are 27-for-32 (84.4 percent) over their last nine games, three of the five goals coming in a disastrous penalty killing performance against the Dallas Stars last Friday.
-- Buffalo’s penalty kill might be characterized lately as “deuces are wild.” The Sabres allowed two power play goals in three of their last six games and are 15-for-22 in that span (68.2 percent).
-- Buffalo is one of only four teams without a 20-goal scorer (Arizona, Carolina, and Edmonton are the others).
-- Washington has only one 20-goal scorer (Alex Ovechkin with 45), but they have five players with a chance to hit that mark: Nicklas Backstrom (18), Troy Brouwer (18), Eric Fehr (18), Marcus Johansson (17), and Joel Ward (16).
-- Washington ranks fifth in the league in scoring defense (2.40 goals per game). Last season they ranked 21st (2.79 goals per game). The Caps have not ranked this high in scoring defense since they finished the 2010-2011 season fourth in the league (2.33 goals per game).
-- Buffalo ranks 29th in scoring defense (3.32 goals per game). The Sabres have not allowed fewer than 2.70 goals per game for a season since 2009-2010 (2.45 goals per game/4th in the league).
-- Buffalo is a bottom-third team when it comes to allowing goals in the first period (56/9th worst in the league), but it does not compare to the horror shot that is their second periods of games (81 goals/2nd worst in the league) and the third periods of games (87 goals/3rd worst). No team other than the Sabres has allowed 80 or more goals in both the second and third periods of games played this season.
-- Washington is tied for the sixth-fewest goals allowed in the first periods of games this season (47, with Montreal). The Caps are one of six teams to have allowed 60 or fewer goals in each of the three periods of games this season (Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, Montreal, and the New York Rangers are the other five).
-- Tyler Ennis leads the Sabres with 17 goals this season.
-- Alex Ovechkin scored his 17th goal in Game 36 this season, a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders on December 29th.
In the end…
You are tempted to write a “W” in ink next to this game, but the Caps have had their moments against inferior opponents this season, including a 2-1 loss to this very Sabres team on Verizon Center ice back in November. Upstate New York has not been hospitable to the Caps in recent years, either. They do not have a win in regulation in Buffalo since February 20, 2011, a 2-1 victory. Since then the Caps are 2-2-1 in Buffalo, but both wins have come in extra time. This might not be as easy as the respective records of these clubs might suggest.
Capitals 4 – Sabres 2