BY: DAVID KOLB
BUFFALO SABRES (7-8-5) @ WASHINGTON CAPITALS (12-5-2)
BACK AROUND LEVEL
The Sabres enter tonight’s game against the Capitals a game under the elusive .500 mark. Consistency is key for a Buffalo team looking to get back in the postseason and a victory over Washington would help the Sabres get pointed in the right direction.
NO EASY FEAT
The Capitals have won three out of their last four games on their current five-game homestand and hope to finish strong tonight at Verizon Center. The Caps are 7-3-0 at home, while the Sabres are 4-4-2 away from Buffalo.
The Sabres are coming off a 2-1 shootout loss to the Red Wings on Wednesday, but things are starting to look brighter on the injury front. Ryan O’Reilly made his return from injury against Detroit and injured center Jack Eichel (lower body) is skating at full speed in practice. O’Reilly skated 22:48 Wednesday, but may need a few games to shake off his rust after being sidelined with an oblique injury.
Alex Ovechkin rung up his 16th career hat trick in Wednesday’s 4-3 win against the Blues. “The Great 8” continues to torment the league with 12 goals and four assists for 16 points this season. The Caps’ captain has caught fire in the month of November, scoring eight times.
GIO’S GOT JUMP
Brian Gionta scored the lone Sabres goal Wednesday against Detroit, giving the Sabres’ captain four goals and four assists this season. Gionta has been excellent on the road, tallying three goals with three assists for six points in 10 games played.