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Tuesday, December 30th (All times eastern)

Washington Capitals (23-11-3) at Buffalo Sabres (17-14-5), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The red-hot Washington Capitals will aim for their fourth straight victory when they visit the Buffalo Sabres for tonight's battle at HSBC Arena.

The Capitals, who lead the Southeast Division with 49 points, have won three in a row and eight of their last nine contests. The only loss during that span came on December 20 in the form of a 7-1 blowout in Philadelphia.

Washington picked up its latest victory Sunday against visiting Toronto. Brooks Laich and Alex Ovechkin scored two goals apiece to lead the streaking Caps to the 4-1 win over the Maple Leafs.

Ovechkin upped his season total to 25 goals, tying him with Buffalo's Thomas Vanek for second in the NHL, one behind Philadelphia's Jeff Carter for the league lead. Ovechkin was also named the NHL's First Star for the week ending December 28th as he tallied six points (5 goals, 1 assist) in three games.

Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green each had two assists for the Caps in Sunday's win at Verizon Center.

Jose Theodore made 23 saves in the win for the Capitals, on the night they retired Mike Gartner's No. 11 jersey.

Tonight marks the final game of the 2008 calendar year for Washington, which is just 8-10-2 as the visiting team this season. The Caps will start the new year on a four-game homestand, which will begin with Thursday's test against Tampa Bay.

Buffalo halted a three-game losing streak by edging the visiting New York Islanders on Saturday. Ales Kotalik scored the winner in the shootout as the Sabres posted a 4-3 win over the Isles despite blowing a two-goal lead late in the game.

The Islanders scored two goals in the final 1:34 of the third period and tied the contest with just two seconds left on the clock, but after a scoreless overtime the game was to be decided in the shootout.

Kotalik was the first shooter and he went to the backhand and lifted the puck past Joey MacDonald. After Ryan Miller stopped Richard Park's low stuffer, Drew Stafford went from the backhand to the forehand and slid the disc past the left pad of MacDonald. Miller then preserved the win when he stopped Kyle Okposo's low wrister.

Jochen Hecht, Jason Pominville and Clarke MacArthur each had a goal for the Sabres, while Miller finished with 32 saves.

Vanek, meanwhile, has scored just one goal in his last six games after recording six markers in his previous five outings.

The Sabres are 10-8-2 as the host this year and are completing a brief two- game homestand tonight. Buffalo will play its next two games on the road, beginning with a stop in Toronto on New Year's Day.

Buffalo and the Caps have split a pair of meetings so far this season with each club picking up a victory on their home ice. Washington has taken two of three in the series, but the Sabres have won seven of the last nine encounters overall.

The Caps have also been defeated in seven of eight and eight of their previous 10 stops in western New York.

12/30 10:39:23 ET


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