The NHL is set up with another action paced night on Sunday. Eleven games are up on the board throughout January 24. One of these games will be between the Buffalo Sabres and the Washington Capitals. These two teams will meet up looking for a big win in this one. This game will drop the puck at around 3:00 PM Eastern time.
The Sabres have started off this season with a record of 1-3-1, which has them sitting in last place of the East Division. Buffalo has lost back to back games coming into this one. The Sabres will look to break the losing skid with a win in this one. If Buffalo can come out hot in this one, they could finally break through on the Capitals.
Washington has put up a record of 3-0-2 throughout this season so far, which has them in the top spot of the East Division. The Capitals are coming off a win in their last game and have earned a point in all of their games so far this season. All three of Washington’s wins have come against the Sabres to open up this season and will look to keep that up on Sunday.
The Capitals have come out hot against Buffalo to open up this season, which has them in opposite parts of the standings. Washington will look to earn their fourth straight win against the Sabres in this one, while Buffalo will look to end the losing skid. I expect these two teams to come out hot in this one as they look to set the pace on Sunday afternoon.
The first game of the season series was on January 14 in Buffalo. Taylor Hall, Jake McCabe and Victor Olofsson all had a goal and an assist, but it was not enough. T.J. Oshie had a goal and two assists, while Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson each had a goal and an assist. Alex Ovechkin had two assists on the nigh to help lead the Capitals to a 6-4 win to open up the season.
The second game of the season series stayed in Buffalo on January 15. Jakub Vrana had a goal in the second period to open up the scoring. Rasmus Ristolainen tied it up with a goal in the third, but Tom Wilson’s goal in the third was the difference. Vitek Vanacek stopped 30 of 31 shots to help lead the Capitals to a 2-1 win on the road.
The third game of this season’s series was on January 22 in Washington. Dylan Cozens, Riley Sheahan and Eric Staal each had a goal for the Sabres to force overtime. Jakub Vrana had a goal and an assist. Nicklas Backstrom and Nic Dowd each scored for the Capitals on the night. John Carlson had a goal in the fourth round of the shootout to lead Washington to a 4-3 win.
The Capitals have won all three games against Buffalo to open up this season. The Sabres will look to finally break through on Washington in this one. Buffalo was able to force a shootout in their last game, but could not finish it off. If the Sabres can come out hotter in this one, it should be enough to help knock off the Capitals, who are without Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov.
The Sabres power play has not been great to open up this season, but their penalty kill has been solid. Buffalo has capitalized on 3 of their 17 power play chances, which is good for a 17.7 percent power play. The Sabres have killed off 5 of the 6 penalties against them, which is an 83.3 percent kill rate. Buffalo will look to improve their power play a bit coming into this one.
Washington has been strong on both sides of special teams so far this season. The Capitals have been able to score on 2 of their 9 power play opportunities, which is a 22.2 percent success rate. Washington has killed off 15 of 18 power plays attempts by opposing teams, which is an 83.3 percent penalty kill. The Capitals will look to keep up their success on special teams in this one.
These two teams have put up similar special penalty kills so far this season. Buffalo has not committed a lot of penalties this season, while the Capitals have been in the box a lot more throughout this season. If the Sabres get a lot of power play chances in this one, it could be enough to help them get the power play going. I expect Buffalo to switch things up in this one.
I expect Linus Ullmark to get the nod in the crease for the Sabres on Sunday afternoon. Ullmark has started twice this season, going 0-1-1 in his starts. He has posted a save percentage of .906 and a 2.44 GAA through those games. Ullmark stopped 29 of 32 shots throughout Friday nights game against the Capitals. Buffalo will look for Ullmark to step up again in this one.
Vitek Vanacek will get the start in the net for Washington in this one after Samsonov tested positive for COVID-19. Vanacek has started three times this season, earning a record of 2-0-1 through his starts. He has put up a .898 save percentage and a GAA of 2.90. Vanacek turned away 24 of 27 shots in Friday’s game. The Capitals will look to step up in this one.
These two goalies have had solid starts to the new season. Ullmark has had better stats early in the season and will look to pick it up. Vanacek has put up some solid numbers throughout this season, but will need to step up a little with Samsonov out. I expect Ullmark to come out hot in this one as he looks to help end the Sabres losing streak.
Buffalo is coming into this one after losing three straight games to the Capitals to open up this season. Washington will be without Ovechkin, Samsonov, Kuznetsov, Orlov and Tom Wilson coming into this one. This will give the Sabres a great chance to earn a win on Sunday night. Buffalo will look to build off the shootout loss on Friday night with a win in this one.
BetOnline has the Sabres listed as a -128 against the money line in this one. This implies that Buffalo will win this game around 56.1 percent of the time. I agree with this line, but there is not a lot of value in it. I think that the Sabres will be able to put up a dominant performance in this one. Buffalo is listed as a -1 ½ at +180, which I think has a lot of value. The Sabres have lost three in a row, while Washington has not lost in regulation yet this season. I think Buffalo will come out hot in this one.