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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, February 20th (All times eastern)

Washington Capitals (30-19-10) at Buffalo Sabres (27-24-6), 12:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The struggling Washington Capitals will try to win for just the second time in six games today when they visit the Buffalo Sabres for an afternoon battle at HSBC Arena.

The Capitals have lost four of their last five games and are also 1-2-0 so far on a five-game road trip that is set to end tomorrow in Pittsburgh.

Washington, which is 13-12-3 as the road team this season, is currently fifth in the Eastern Conference with 70 points, but is just one ahead of sixth- seeded Montreal, which plays Calgary tonight in the Heritage Classic.

The Caps are also five points behind idle Tampa Bay for first place in the Southeast Division.

One night after notching a wild 7-6 victory in Anaheim on Wednesday, the Capitals were tamed in San Jose. Dany Heatley's third-period goal proved to be the difference on Thursday, as the Sharks edged Washington at HP Pavilion.

Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom tallied for Washington, which lost for the 14th time in 15 games to San Jose. Michal Neuvirth stopped 25 shots in defeat.

The score was tied at 1-1 heading into the third, but San Jose scored the first two goals of the final period. Washington didn't make it 3-2 until the 18:05 mark of the third.

"I thought if we could have gotten the lead early in the third period, we might have been able to hold on. But it was going to be tough coming from behind," said Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau.

The Caps played their third straight game without defenseman Mike Green, who is dealing with an inner-ear problem. He is with the team and is questionable for today's test.

The Sabres will try to avoid a third straight loss when they take the ice today. Buffalo was dealt a 3-0 setback Friday night by Ty Conklin and the visiting St. Louis Blues. Conklin stopped 25 shots for his second shutout of the season.

Buffalo has lost two in a row for the first time since Dec. 23-27 and the club's last dropped three straight during a five-game skid from Oct. 26-Nov. 5.

Ryan Miller made 21 saves for the Sabres, who have also lost three in a row at HSBC Arena and are 12-14-2 as the host this season. Today's tilt marks the third test of a six-game homestand for Buffalo.

"It's frustrating. We have a homestand here to get points, make an even better push to get in the playoffs," Sabres left wing Thomas Vanek said. "We have to forget about them and start winning again."

The Sabres are on the outside looking in at the postseason picture for the time being. Buffalo is currently tied for the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference and is four points behind Carolina for a potential playoff spot.

Buffalo and the Caps have split a pair of meetings this season with each club winning a game on home ice. Washington has taken three of four and four of six overall in the series, but the Sabres have won two of three and nine out of 12 encounters in western New York.

02/20 10:48:07 ET


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