WASHINGTON -- The Sabres meet the Washington Capitals Monday night at 7 in Verizon Center with both teams in pretty desperate mode to try to get their offenses going. The matchup is on MSG and WGR Radio 550, with Dan Dunleavy on the call.
Here are five things to know about the game:
1. Offensive offense: The Caps have just three goals in going 0-2-1 in their last three games. They have just 13 goals in the seven games since they pounded Pittsburgh, 7-1, here on Nov. 16 but have managed to go 3-3-1 in that stretch. Andre Burakovsky has just two goals on the season and Evgeny Kuznetsov, a 20-goal/77-point player last year, has just three goals and nine points. Coach Barry Trotz's ominous warning on them today: "Maybe we have to do something drastic." The Sabres, of course, remain last in the league at 2.0 goals per game but do have 10 in the three games since Jack Eichel returned to the lineup.
2. The Sabres have slipped into last place in the Eastern Conference. Even though they're 4-2-1 in their last seven games, Buffalo fell into 16th in the East when the New York Islanders got a point Sunday against Detroit. With 23 points in 24 games, the Sabres are one of five NHL teams below a point-a-game pace. The Caps, meanwhile, are only 4-4-2 in their last 10 games and are fifth in the Metropolitan Division. Buffalo is six points behind them for the last wild-card slot in the East.
3. Starters in net. It will be Robin Lehner (5-8-3, 2.38, .922) vs. Braden Holtby (10-6-2, 2.16, .922). Holtby is 0-2-1 in his last three while Lehner is 0-1-1 in his last two decisions -- and just 1-5-2 in his last eight.
4. Alex Ovechkin is chasing history. The Caps star has 12 goals and six assists in 23 games this year, leaving him 16 points shy of becoming the 37th player to get 1,000 for his career with one franchise. He has 26-16-42 in 40 career games against the Sabres. Ovechkin is only one goal shy of 200 on the power play for his career, something only 17 other NHLers have accomplished.
5. Tough sledding vs. Caps. Washington is 11-2-2 in its last 15 against Buffalo and beat the Sabres here, 3-1, on Nov. 25. It was the first of three meetings in a seven-game stretch for Buffalo, as the teams play again Friday in KeyBank Center.
"It's almost a mini three-game series," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said here today. "It's a refresher a little bit about the game here against the Capitals but I think the guys are well aware what they do and are eager to get back at them."