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KALETA RETURNS FOR BIG GAME IN DC

Tuesday, 03.27.2012 / 12:38 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE
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THE MORNING SKATE
KALETA RETURNS FOR BIG GAME IN DC

MORNING SKATE LINES
Stafford-Ennis-Foligno
Vanek-Hodgson-Tropp
Leino-Roy-Pominville
McCormick-Boyes-Kaleta

LINEUP NEWS
- Patrick Kaleta returns to the lineup after missing three games with an upper body injury.
- Ryan Miller gets the start in goal; 12-9-0 all-time vs. WSH; 2.52 GAA, .914 save%, 3 SO’s
- Nathan Gerbe remains out of the lineup; Ruff says he's not as far along in recovery as they'd hoped.
- Travis Turnbull has been returned to Rochester (AHL).

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING TODAY
Lindy Ruff (listen to the full audio)
Is it good to have Patrick Kaleta back in the lineup?
Yeah. Pat has done a good job killing penalties, and has good energy. It feels good.

With all the hype about this game, what’s it like to finally be here?
Obviously we’ve had to focus one game at a time. We’ve pushed hard. Washington has played well. I think they’ve got six of eight, and we’ve won four straight. We know that this game has big implications one way or the other. But there are still games after this game. For us, we are looking at one game at a time. We have to play well. We know that Ovechkin has been going well for them. We’ve got a job to do tonight.

What has been the difference with the defensive play of the Roy line?
They’ve grabbed a hold of their role. And they’ve tried to make sure they’ve done a good job against top lines. Tonight we’re gonna need two lines. They’ve got Ovechkin playing on two different lines, they’re double shifting him; he’s playing 25 plus minutes. All the lines are gonna have to be responsible. We know what he’s capable of doing if you give him space and time You give him anything on the rush and he’s a dangerous player.

Patrick Kaleta (listen to the full audio): “I always enjoy challenges. If you don’t take on those challenges, life is pretty calm and uneventful.”

Drew Stafford: “For as long as I can remember, every game has been like the biggest game of the year … Tonight is just another opportunity to go out and get two points.”

Jordan Leopold: “We just need to go out there and have fun … Limit our mistakes and take advantage of our opportunities.”

TONIGHT’S GAME
SABRES at CAPITALS
-Fourth and final meeting between the Sabres and Capitals this season.
-Last meeting: Washington defeated Buffalo, 3-1, in Washington on Dec. 30.
-The Sabres are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Capitals; 4-5-1 on the road.
-This is the 140th game all-time between Buffalo and Washington; Buffalo leads the series with an 82-41-16 record; 38-21-10 on the road.

STORYLINES
- The Sabres are looking for their first win in Washington since Apr. 3, 2009. With a win, Buffalo would win the season series against Washington for the first time since they went 3-1-0 against the Capitals in 2007-08.
- Buffalo enters tonight’s game tied with Washington for eighth place after beginning the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of eighth in the Eastern Conference. Since then, they’ve gone 13-2-4 (.789), trailing only Pittsburgh for the league's best record during that stretch.
- The Sabres are on a four-game winning streak for the second time this season (last: Nov. 4 to Nov. 11). They haven’t won five straight since winning six in a row from Dec. 29, 2009 to Jan. 8, 2010.
- Buffalo has earned a point in nine of their last 10 games (7-1-2) and 17 of their last 19 (13-2-4).

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Buffalo is 30-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 28-4-4 when scoring three or more… Ryan Miller was named the NHL’s ‘Second Star of the Week’ for the week ending March 25 after going 4-0-0 with a 1.26 GAA and a .956 SV% last week… In three games against Washington this season, Buffalo has gotten goals from seven different skaters and points from 16… Derek Roy has led all Sabres in ice time in each of the last two games, and in seven total games this season… The Sabres haven’t been outscored in the third period in their last eight games.

FOLIGNO-ENNIS-STAFFORD
*Buffalo’s line of Tyler Ennis, Drew Stafford and Marcus Foligno has combined for 15 goals and 33 total points in the last eight games.
*Foligno has 10 points (6+4) and a plus-8 rating in eight games since his recall on March 9. Prior to this recall, Foligno had only played one NHL game. Only five other active players have scored six or more goals in their first nine career games: Teemu Selanne (8), Evgeni Malkin (8), Devin Setoguchi (7), Ilya Kovalchuk (6) and Alex Ovechkin (6).
*Ennis has 20 points (8+12) in his last 20 games. The Sabres are 13-1-5 when Ennis records a point this season and 40-9-9 when he tallies a point in his career.
*Stafford has 12 points (4+8) in his last seven games, topping his previous career best of 11 points seven games.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Cody Hodgson is on pace to play 83 games this season, including 48 on the road. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Hodgson’s 48 road games in one season would be an NHL record. The current record is 47, held by Darryl Sydor (1995-96) and Niklas Hagman (2005-06). The most road games by a player who spent part of the season in Buffalo is currently 46 (Mike Foligno, 1981-82).

EVERYBODY’S CHIPPING IN
Buffalo has gotten goals from 29 different scorers this season, the most since 29 different players scored for the Sabres in 1992-93. Buffalo’s franchise record is 30, set in 1986-87 and matched in 1987-88 and 1991-92.

ROOKIE MAGIC
The Sabres have had six different players score their first career goal this season: Corey Tropp, TJ Brennan, Zack Kassian, Brayden McNabb, Marcus Foligno and Travis Turnbull. The last time six different players scored their first goal for the Sabres was 1992-93:Richard Smehlik, Viktor Gordiouk, Yuri Khmylev, Scott Thomas, Doug MacDonald and Matthew Barnaby.

FINISHING STRONG AFTER THE BREAK
Buffalo is 543-400-185 (.563) all-time in games after the All-Star break. This includes a record of 92-47-23 (.639) in those games since the lockout. The Sabres are 17-5-5 (.722) since the 2012 NHL All-Star Game. These totals do not include games after breaks for the Olympic Games.

BATTLING BACK
The Sabres began the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of a playoff spot after a 7-2 loss at PHI the night before. Since then, the team has gone 13-2-4. Only one team in NHL history has overcome a 10 point deficit this late in the season, when the New York Islanders rallied from a 10-point hole on Feb. 18, 1994 to snag eighth place in the conference.

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