WASHINGTON — The Buffalo Sabres will try and do what the Detroit Red Wings and Carolina Hurricanes did not do this week when they play the Washington Capitals Saturday night at Capital One Arena.
Stop Alex Ovechkin.
Ovechkin tied his career-long point streak at 13 games Friday night with his second straight hat trick as Washington rallied for a 6-5 shootout win at the Carolina Hurricanes.
An Ovechkin one-timer from the left circle at 9:49 of the third period made it a 5-4 game for Washington before former Capital Justin Williams forced overtime.
“Obviously I have pretty good chances,” Ovechkin told the team website of his hat trick. “You can see on my goals my linemates do a pretty good job of giving me space and I just have to put it in.”
It was Ovechkin’s 22nd NHL hat track and his point streak (16 goals, six assists) tied his longest in the NHL. Overall, he has 28 goals and 42 points in 31 games.
“Any time he’s in the offensive zone he’s dangerous with the puck,” the Sabres Conor Sheary told the Buffalo News. “You have to be aware of him when he’s out there and not give him time and space. And keeping them off the power play is such a big them with them too. It’s a strong first unit that can bury the puck.”
In 45 career games against the Sabres, Ovechkin has 46 points (30 goals, 16 assists).
Travis Boyd scored goal for the third straight game Friday night and Tom Wilson also scored. Jakub Vrana provided the shootout winner and Nic Dowd and John Carlson each had three assists for the Capitals (19-9-3).
Washington won despite trailing 4-1 in the second period of a game in which they allowed three power-play goals and a short-handed tally.
“A tough start, and falling behind by three,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden told the team’s website. “But the second half of the game – I think we said at the eight-minute mark [of the second period] that there was a lot of hockey to be played. Major credit to our guys for sticking with it and battling through and converting on our chances that we got. It was a big two points for us in not a perfect way.”
The Capitals have won four straight and 11 of 13.
Buffalo (19-9-4) has won two straight after a five-game losing streak and is 5-3-2 in its last 10 games. The Sabres play back-to-backs this weekend in Washington and Boston.
“It’s going to be a very good test,” coach Phil Housley told the Buffalo News. “Washington is healthy right now. They’ve got their full lineup so it’s going to be a great challenge for our guys to get ready to play in difficult circumstances in their building not getting the matchups we want. There’s going to be a lot of responsibility, especially on our young guys, to face a heavy team.”
The Sabres are coming off a 3-1 home win over the Arizona Coyotes Thursday night. Buffalo got goals from Jeff Skinner, Evan Rodrigues and Casey Mittelstadt. Goaltender Carter Hutton, who had missed the past three games, made 25 saves.
Buffalo defenseman Marco Scandella (upper body injury) practiced a Friday and could return against the Capitals.
Braden Holtby made 22 saves for the Capitals Friday night, so Pheonix Copley could get the start against Buffalo.