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Sabres at Caps: Five Things to Know

WASHINGTON -- The Sabres had no morning skate Saturday in Capital One Arena as the building had a noon college basketball game between Georgetown and Providence, so coach Phil Housley's daily briefing won't be held until around 4:30.

The Sabres are opening a back-to-back, as they will play Boston Sunday in KeyBank Center in the final game prior to Monday's NHL trade deadline. Here are Five Things to Know about Saturday's game against the Caps:

1. Lineup news

Housley will make things official later today but Nicolas Baptiste and Justin Falk are expected to be Buffalo's healthy scratches. Robin Lehner has been money on the road of late, going 3-0-1, 1.22 and .963 in his last four starts away from KeyBank Center. It stands to reason Lehner could go tonight, with Chad Johnson getting the call against the Bruins. The Caps are going with backup Philip Grubauer in net, as they did in their 3-2 win Monday in Buffalo. He's 6-7-3, 2.62/.916 for the season.

2. Road warriors

The Sabres enter this game with points in six straight on the road (5-0-1) in the same season for the first time since a 6-0-1 run from Feb. 8 to March 6, 2011. Rasmus Ristolainen, who scored the opening goal Thursday in Detroit, has 12 points (4-8) in his last 11 road games.

But the Sabres have lost four straight in Washington (0-3-1) and are looking for their first win here since Nov. 22, 2014.

As deadline clock ticks, Sabres' road run shows no signs of ending

3. Caps struggling in February

Here's one you wouldn't expect: Buffalo and Washington enter tonight's game with exactly the same record in February at 4-5-2. The Caps are just 2-3-2 in their last seven games and have simply not kept the puck out of their net, allowing 27 goals in those seven games. They've lost three of their last four games, with the only win coming Monday over the Sabres.

Pittsburgh's acquisition of Ottawa's Derick Brassard on Friday and the Devils' pickup of Michael Grabner from the Rangers on Thursday has observers here wondering what, if anything, the cap-strapped Caps can do to fortify their team at the deadline. So far, they've added a couple under-the-radar defensemen in Chicago's Michal Kempny and Montreal's Jakub Jerabek. Kempny will play tonight while Jerabek will not make his debut.

4. Ovechkin's numbers

The milestones keep getting closer and closer for Caps superstar Alexander Ovechkin. Tonight will be the 983rd game of his NHL career,  tying him with former Buffalo first-round pick and defenseman Calle Johansson for tops on the franchise's all-time list. Ovechkin is six goals away from becoming the 20th player in league history to get to 600. He passed 1,100 points last week, becoming the 60th player to reach that mark, and is at 1,103 for his career.

Ovechkin scored on a world-class mid-air tip-in Monday in KeyBank Center for his 28th career goal against the Sabres. In 44 games against Buffalo, Ovechkin has 44 points (28-16-44).  He leads the NHL this season with 36 goals.

5. Close games make a difference

The Sabres' buzzer-beating overtime win Thursday in Detroit improved their record in one-goal games to 8-10-11 and their overtime record to 4-11 (4-10 in game-winning goals, 0-1 in shootouts). They continue to lead the NHL in one-goal losses and are tied for the top in OT defeats.

What's a winning team look like? The Caps are 15-5-7 in one-goal affairs and 9-7 in OT. Just a tad different.

Sabres' late push is teaching moment for opponents

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