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Capitals Game Day

Capitals vs. Sabres: Tale of the Tape, Lines, Players To Watch

The Washington Capitals open 2023 with a tough matchup against the young Buffalo Sabres. Here’s everything to know ahead of puck drop.



WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals closed out 2022 on a strong note, and they'll look to keep the good times rolling as they take on the Buffalo Sabres in their first game of 2023.

Here is everything to know ahead of puck drop:

Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres: Tale of the Tape

The Capitals (21-13-5) had a red-hot December and have managed to climb from second to last in the Metropolitan Division up to third. However, things are still tight, as Washington is two points out of second but also just three points ahead of Wild Card teams. Things have been clicking all-around of late in terms of 5-on-5 scoring, consistency and solid defense and goaltending, and the team is also expecting a lot of star power to return in the coming weeks, which will only provide a bigger boost.  In addition, the power play has 14 goals in the team's last 21 games, and the penalty kill ranks 11th overall (81.3).

Meanwhile, the Sabres (18-15-2) have been fighting to get back in the playoff picture after falling off a bit following their impressive start to the season. The talented young group has a lot of star power and is a dangerous team built from top to bottom, and it had won five straight before suffering a loss last game and is 7-2-1 in its last 10. Buffalo leads the league in goals scored per game (3.91), and the power play is the third-best in the league (28). The Sabres do struggle on the penalty kill, though, as that unit ranks sixth-last in the league (72.9).

Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres: Lines

Washington did not run lines at Tuesday's practice, but it does appear that T.J. Oshie will be back in the mix after missing six games with a lower-body injury. Based on extra work for certain players after practice and the look of things, here are what the lines could look like:

Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Conor Sheary

Sonny Milano-Dylan Strome-Anthony Mantha

Marcus Johansson-Lars Eller-T.J. Oshie

Aliaksei Protas-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway

Erik Gustafsson-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen

Martin Fehervary-Matt Irwin

Darcy Kuemper was the first goaltender off and will start, while Charlie Lindgren will back up.

Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres: Players To Watch

Following a dominant 9-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, there are several names to keep an eye out for in D.C. Of course, look out for red-hot Erik Gustafsson, who is on a seven-game point streak. Also, Alex Ovechkin had his 30th career hat trick and has six goals in his last four games. Evgeny Kuznetsov is on a five-game point streak, with eight points over that span, and Dylan Strome and Conor Sheary are both riding four-game point streaks of their own. Meanwhile, Marcus Johansson is coming off a three-point outing and has five points in his last five games.

On the Buffalo side, there are several high-danger names to keep an eye on, mainly Tage Thompson. The 6-6 forward has 27 goals and 24 assists for 51 points in 35 games, and he is ranked sixth in the league in scoring with 51 points so far. Alex Tuch, meanwhile, has eight points in his last five outings. And, prior to last game, Jeff Skinner was on a 10-game point streak. Also keep an eye on the likes of Rasmus Dahlin, Dylan Cozens, Victor Olofsson, Kyle Okposo and more.

How To Tune In

Local fans can watch the action live on NBC Sports Washington and listen on Caps Radio 24/7. Sabres fans can catch the game on MSG Network or listen at WGR 550.

Puck drop is at 7 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena.