Greetings from what is now called the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, where Tomas Vokoun is set to get the start in net tonight for the Capitals as they look to rebound from an ugly loss to the Rangers.
Both teams are looking for bounce back performances here in the second of back-to-back games for each club. The Capitals are coming off the 6-3 loss to New York and Buffalo suffered a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets Friday night.
“I think both teams will put on a good game face and play better for 60 minutes,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “You found both teams playing well for spots but it’s been the same thing with us for the last month now. We play really good for certain areas and then we have six to eight minute spots where we don’t do well. A goal goes in and we don’t get mentally tough and come right back, we feel sorry for ourselves.
“We’ve got to get over that,” he continued. “You’ve got to be able to fight through it and not let one goal against beat us.”
Washington will face a Sabres team that is rather beat-up and is expected to be without nine regulars Saturday night. Those missing will be: Ryan Miller, Tyler Ennis, Tyler Myers, Cody McCormick, Brad Boyes, Mike Weber, Patrick Kaleta, Robyn Regehr and an unnamed forward.
If this sounds eerily similar to the setting of the Capitals’ game a week ago in Toronto where the Maple Leafs were without seven regulars, well, it’s because it is. Safe bet Washington will be looking to avoid a similar outcome, though.
A few other quick items of note from the morning skate:
— Mathieu Perreault will be back in the lineup for Washington after being a healthy scratch against the Rangers Friday. The centerman has been a healthy scratch in seven of the past 11 games.
Perreault’s return to the mix means rookie forward Cody Eakin, who took part in the scratches skate this morning, will likely be out.
— John Erskine took part in the scratches skate so it doesn’t look like his left shoulder is game-ready quite yet. If he sits in Buffalo it will be the defenseman’s fourth straight game out of the lineup since he fell on his surgically repaired shoulder last Sunday in practice.
— It was a sparsely attended morning skate, which is to be expected on back-to-back games. Those who did take to the ice were: Vokoun, Michal Neuvirth, Karl Alzner, Dmitry Orlov, Roman Hamrlik, Dennis Wideman, Jeff Schultz, John Carlson, Alexander Semin, Matt Hendricks, Jeff Halpern, Perreault and Eakin.