The Capitals (9-2-3) finally return home for their first game at Capital One Arena since Oct. 18. Their first game back is a tough one as they host the Buffalo Sabres (9-2-2). You can catch all the action on NBC Sports Washington with Caps FaceOff Live kicking things off at 6 p.m. before Caps Pregame Live begins at 6:30 p.m. to bring you up to the 7 p.m. puck drop. Stick with NBC Sports Washington afterward for Caps Postgame Live, D.C. Sports Live and Caps Overtime Live.
Here are four things to know for Tuesday’s game.
Kuznetsov is in
Evgeny Kuznetsov did not practice Thursday. His absence was initially labeled a maintenance day, but Todd Reirden said after practice he was day-to-day and was not sure if he would be able to play in Friday’s game. With Nic Dowd’s status also in doubt due to injury, the Caps recalled Liam O’Brien on Friday.
Reirden said after Friday's morning skate that the plan is for Kuznetsov to play while Nic Dowd is out and considered day-to-day.
Here are the Caps’ lines from morning skate:
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Carl Hagelin - Lars Eller - Garnet Hathaway
Brendan Leipsic - Chandler Stephenson - Travis Boyd
Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Radko Gudas
Jonas Siegenthaler - Nick Jensen
Braden Holtby starts
Not the same Sabres
It has been a long time since the Sabres were any good. You have to go all the way back to 2011 for the last time they made the playoffs and even farther than that, back to 2007, to find the last time they advanced past the second round.
So far this season, this appears to be a much improved Sabres team. Before anyone gets too high on Buffalo, let’s not forget that this team went on a 10-game win streak last season and still managed to miss the playoffs so there is always the chance of a letdown. For now, however, these Sabres look different.
Ralph Krueger is the new head coach in Buffalo and has received rave reviews from the players. Jack Eichel especially seems to be buying in and has seven goals and 10 assists in just 13 games played this season.
This Sabres team may actually be for real.
Buffalo’s goaltending is red hot
A goalie tandem of Linus Ullmark and Carter Hutton is not exactly the most intimidating pair, but both netminders have been lights out to start the season. Ullmark, who is expected to start Friday, is 3-1-1 with a 2.56 GAA and .932 save percentage. Hutton has been just as good with a 6-1-1 record, 2.21 GAA and .926 save percentage.
Top of the league
Entering Friday, there is no team in the NHL with more points than the Capitals’ 21. After a brutal October schedule, including a five-game road trip in which the team earned nine out of a possible 10 points, Washington escaped the month with the best record in the league.
There are two teams in the league right behind Washington with 20 points, including Buffalo, and both have played fewer games than the Caps, but that should not take away from what the Caps were able to do with the schedule they were faced with.
Because the Sabres are just one point behind Washington, that makes Friday’s game a battle for first place. Only a regulation win will keep the Caps ahead of Buffalo in the standings. It may be a bit early in the season to be watching the schedule, but that adds a bit of intrigue to a November matchup.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS: