Braden Holtby will make his seventh consecutive start Saturday night as the Capitals take on the Sabres in the first of three games in four days on the road. Buffalo will start backup Jhonas Enroth, who has played in just six games this season and has made just two career appearances (1-0-1, .903 save percentage, 2.92 GAA) against the Capitals.
“We’re going to treat it one game at a time and he’s been hot so he’s going to get the start in Buffalo,” Capitals Coach Adam Oates said of Holtby. “Try to bounce back and get another win for us.”
For the past several days Oates has said he planned on splitting the back-to-back contests between Holtby and Michal Neuvirth. But it’s always possible if things go well against the Sabres, Oates could roll with Holtby the same way he did in Winnipeg last week.
Neuvirth didn’t have the easiest of morning skates here at First Niagara Center. A blast of a shot by Alex Ovechkin hit Neuvirth in the chin, knocked off his mask and shook him up a good bit. While he stayed on for the rest of the morning skate, Neuvirth said his teeth and jaw were sore from the shot.
On to some other notes from the morning skate:
>> Jeff Schultz is expected to be back in the lineup after sitting out the past four games as a healthy scratch and will likely skate with Steve Oleksy on the third pairing.
“Sometimes you ask a guy to take a step back and re-evaluate themselves and we’ve got two games in two nights and we need him. We need his size, we need him to be a force and hopefully a little bit of a wakeup call,” said Oates, who added that he wants to see Schultz use his size to his advantage a little more.
“Little bit more physical. He’s got a tremendous reach. Use it and be a force out there,” Oates said. “We’re not asking about fighting or anything like that but you have to make guys respect that you’re 6-foot-5.”
>> Every player who made the trip to Buffalo with the team was on the ice Saturday morning, including injured defensemen John Erskine (left hand/wrist) and Tomas Kundratek (sprained right MCL). Erskine and Kundratek both took in some extra work with the assistant coaches and Aaron Volpatti and Dmitry Orlov, who will be healthy scratches against the Sabres.
>> Based on the morning skate here’s what the lineup should look like against the Sabres: