The banged-up Washington Capitals visit the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night in a matchup of teams playing back-to-back games.
Already minus five regulars — including three in the COVID-19 protocol — the Capitals lost defenseman Martin Fehervary and forward Tom Wilson to upper-body injuries during a 4-2 home loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.
The duo’s status for Saturday is uncertain as Washington looks to bounce back from just its second home regulation loss of the season. The Capitals trailed 3-0 after two periods before a late rally made things close.
“You want to play well against Pittsburgh, but tonight we just didn’t have it,” T.J. Oshie said. “Fortunately we get a turnaround tomorrow and go back at it and work on our game, learn from our mistakes. Hopefully the boys are doing good in the training room there and away we go.”
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Lars Eller scored for Washington. Alex Ovechkin had two assists and has scored 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in his past 10 games.
The Capitals, 2-2-1 in their past five, have allowed three or more goals in four of those contests. The Penguins were able to generate numerous odd-man rushes against them on Friday.
“The problem when I look back on the game is we gave up 15-17 even strength scoring chances, and a lot of them are self-inflicted with how we play the game, so there are definitely things we can do better,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “It is a quick turnaround. We get back on the ice (Saturday) and try to get back on track.”
The reeling Sabres dropped a 2-1 decision to the visiting New York Rangers on Friday night.
Brett Murray scored for Buffalo, which has lost six straight (0-5-1) and is 1-9-1 in its past 11. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 29 saves.
The Sabres trailed 2-0, rallied and thought they had tied the game with 57 seconds remaining, but the play was ruled offsides.
“I said to the team after, it’s obviously a results-oriented business, but we can’t worry about that,” coach Don Granato said. “We have to play with that passion, play with that compete, believe in outcome, get in the moment. Because you start concerning yourself with that, it pulls you out of that competitiveness. … Doubt creeps in, and you just can’t have it.”
Luukkonen was solid again after making 21 saves in his season debut, a 2-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.
“We’ve given him one goal in two games. Obviously, that’s not enough,” Buffalo’s Kyle Okposo said. “He’s been fantastic. He made three or four 10-bellers tonight. If he keeps playing like that, he’s going to give us a chance to win every night.”
After a pair of 7-4 losses, the Sabres have managed just three total goals in their past three games, though they put 37 shots on net Friday.
Malcom Subban, who returned to practice Friday after suffering a lower-body injury in his season debut on Dec. 4, could start against Washington, or the hot Luukkonen might go back-to-back.
Vitek Vanecek is expected to start in goal for Washington.
The Capitals won the first meeting, 5-3, at home on Nov. 8. Wilson had two goals for Washington.
–Field Level Media