The Capitals (27-6-2, 56 points) put their eight-game win streak on the line tonight against the Buffalo Sabres (15-17-4) at Verizon Center (6:30 p.m. pregame, CSN). Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:
Fight night? Follow along on Twitter (@ChuckGormleyCSN) for the starting lineups tonight. The visiting coach (Dan Bylsma) fills out his first. If he chooses to start the game with forward Nicolas Deslauriers, Caps coach has the option of starting his fourth line of Zach Sill between Brooks Laich and Andre Burakovsky, or his third line of Jay Beagle between Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson. Either way it’s a pretty safe bet Wilson or Sill will want a piece of Deslauriers.
Tale of the tape: For those who care about such things, Sill has had 44 fights as a pro – 33 in the AHL, where he once fought Beagle, and 11 in the NHL, including a bout with Wilson. Deslauriers has 30 pro fights – 18 in the AHL and 12 in the NHL. Sill (6-foot, 202 pounds) and Deslauriers (6-1, 212) have never fought each other.
History in the making?: The Capitals’ 2-0 win in Buffalo Monday was their third straight in western New York, their longest road win streak against the Sabres. Buffalo is looking to avoid being swept for the first time in the franchise's eight home-and-home series against the Capitals.
Beast mode: Caps goalie Braden Holtby (23-4-1, 1.86 GAA, .935 SP) is on pace for 54 wins, which would shatter Marty Brodeur’s NHL record of 48 wins in 2006-07.
Sabres netminders: Chad Johnson will get the start for the Sabres. He and Linus Ullmark have been sharing the Sabres’ net while Robin Lehner is recovering from a high ankle sprain suffered in the season opener. Johnson is 10-9-2 with a .918 SP, while Ullmark is 5-7-2 with a .911 SP.
Who’s hot: Alex Ovechkin is seven goals away from 500. He has 39 points in 37 games against the Sabres in his career. Nicklas Backstrom has 26 points in 29 games against the Sabres. Tyler Ennis has 12 points in his past 11 games against the Capitals.
Mo-January?: On Tuesday the Sabres conducted their monthly “mustache boy” contest in which the player who is the last to score in a shootout contest must agree to grow a mustache for a month or shave the one he has. Defenseman Zach Bogosian was the loser.
Here are projected lineups for both teams:
Scratched: Stanislav Galiev
Chad Johnson (starter) – Linus Ullmark