Sabres at Capitals
The Washington Capitals will try to avoid losing their first three home games in regulation for the first time in 29 years when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. Washington earned its first point of the season in a 3-2 overtime loss at New Jersey on Friday. Mike Ribeiro, who leads the Capitals with four points, scored his first goal against New Jersey. Captain Alex Ovechkin, who leads the team with 13 shots, has yet to score this season. Washington converted three of 20 power plays thus far this season. Getting Ovechkin going will be key to solving the Capitals’ special teams problems.
The Sabres surrendered two power-play goals in five opportunities on Friday and fell to Carolina for the second time in as many nights. Backup netminder Jhonas Enroth allowed five goals in his first start of the season on Thursday, while 39 saves from Ryan Miller wasn’t enough for Buffalo on the next night. Thomas Vanek, who leads the team with nine points, had two assists on Thursday and a goal on Friday. Captain Jason Pominville, who has eight points on the season, scored twice on Thursday and assisted on Vanek’s goal. The Sabres looked much better in their first two games of the season, defeating Philadelphia and Toronto by a combined score of 7-3.
TV: 3 p.m., NHL Network (U.S.), MSG, Comcast Sportsnet D.C.
ABOUT THE SABRES (2-2-0): Vanek has four points and five assists in his last eight games against Washington. Cody Hodgson has three goals to start the season after finishing with three in 20 games for Buffalo in 2011-12. Offseason acquisition Steve Ott, who scored in the season opener against Philadelphia, leads the team with 21 hits. Tyler Ennis, who finished last season with 24 points in 22 games, has one assist so far this season and is minus-3.
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (0-3-1): Joel Ward, who scored six goals in 73 games last season, has two in his first four games this season. Goaltenders Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth have two starts apiece this season. Neuvirth has a 3.37 goals-against average and .877 save percentage, which is better than Holtby’s 5.04 GAA and .863 save percentage. Jason Chimera, who set a career-high with 20 goals and 39 points last season, has two assists - but he leads the team with 11 hits and is plus-1 this season.
1. Buffalo won three of four games against the Capitals last season, including a 5-1 victory in Washington last March.
2. Sabres rookie Mikhail Grigorenko, who was selected 12th overall in the 2012 draft, has yet to record his first NHL point in four games. He is minus-1.
3. Capitals C Marcus Johansson, a former first-round pick who had 46 points last season, is a team-worst minus-5 thus far.
PREDICTION: Sabres 4, Capitals 1