CAPITALS (20-14-4) at SABRES (10-24-4)
TV: CSN-DC, MSG-B, BELL TV
Last 10: Washington 6-2-2; Buffalo 4-4-2
Season series: This is the first of three games between the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres. The Capitals won all three games last season.
Big story: The Sabres, who started the season winless in nine home games, are 7-4-1 in their past 12 games at First Niagara Center, including three straight wins.
Capitals: Washington salvaged the final game of a three-game homestand with a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Friday. Eric Fehr had the game-winning goal with 5:09 left in the third period, breaking a 2-2 tie.
"It's always important for us to try and win in regulation. I think too often, we rely on overtime and the shootout and come playoff time, that's not going to be there for us," he said after the win. "We have to find ways to be a better team in the third period and close out games and win it 5-on-5."
The Capitals have been in 14 overtime games this season with a 2-1 overtime record and an 8-3 record in shootouts.
"It felt great. We've kind of toyed with between winning games in regular time or else we've gone to a lot of overtime and a lot of shootouts, which, we are getting our points but it's a lot better when we finish off in regulation," defenseman Mike Green said.
Sabres: The Sabres' offense has improved with three or more goals in three of their past five games, and the team is 3-1-1 over that stretch. Friday, they suffered a 4-3 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs after holding a 2-0 first period lead -- their first 2-0 lead of the season. Steve Ott scored with 25 seconds remaining to force overtime; Ryan Miller had 42 saves, including two more in the shootout.
"When you have a 2-0 lead in this League, you can't expect to win. It's hard work for 60 minutes no matter how much you are up," Moulson said.
The Sabres allowed 17 shots and three second-period goals to the Maple Leafs.
"I thought we started off real well, but then the second period shows you how you get yourself into trouble if you keep turning the puck over. Close to 19 turnovers in that second period," interim coach Ted Nolan said
Who's hot: Nicklas Backstrom has a goal in each of his past two games for the Capitals. Troy Brouwer has registered a point in four of five games (one goal, five assists). … Moulson has three goals and three assists in six games for the Sabres. Miller has stopped 227 of 241 shots in December, good for a .942 save percentage.
Injury report: Sabres center Cody Hodgson missed the game Friday with a broken finger. Wings Kevin Porter (leg) and Cody McCormick (upper body) are on injured reserve. … Defenseman Jack Hillen (tibia) and wing Michael Latta (lower body) are on IR for the Capitals. Forward Brooks Laich (groin) missed the game Friday.
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