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Washington
Capitals
23-46-10-3
Buffalo
Sabres
37-34-7-4

26 SOG
42 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
WSH
BUF
game preview

Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Wednesday, 12.31.2003 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

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Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres
Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres
Capitals-Sabres Preview

GAME: Washington Capitals (11-22-3-1) at Buffalo Sabres (14-19-3-1).

TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Buffalo Sabres should be happy to see the Washington Capitals again.

Buffalo tries to remain perfect against Washington this season when the teams meet for the second time in a week.

Buffalo has won both previous meetings between the teams, most recently enjoying a 3-1 victory Saturday at the MCI Center.

That gave the Sabres back-to-back wins for the first time in a month, but their three-game unbeaten streak was snapped Monday with a 2-1 loss at Carolina.

Curtis Brown staked Buffalo to the lead late in the first period, but Carolina goaltender Kevin Weekes stopped the next 15 shots over the final 40 minutes.

Production from the power play is imperative for any team, but particularly for the Sabres, one of the league's weakest offensive units. Buffalo registered one shot on five power-play opportunities Monday and has scored just three times in the last 49 chances.

"The guys on the power play will be the first to say we gotta have that working," defenseman Jay McKee said. "I know as penalty killers that when we shut a team down it gets you going. We need to find ways to get more shots through."

As if their scoring problems aren't enough, the Sabres were forced to put goaltender Mika Noronen on injured reserve Tuesday with a groin problem.

Noronen was injured during Monday's loss to Carolina. He will be out for at least a week.

Noronen, who had supplanted Martin Biron as the No. 1 goalie after starting seven of the last eight games for Buffalo, is 8-9-1 with a 2.05 goals-against average and two shutouts in 21 appearances this season.

Buffalo recalled goalie Ryan Miller from Rochester of the AHL. Biron hasn't won a start since Nov. 17.

Forward J.P. Dumont, who has been sidelined since injuring his hip against Carolina, won't play against Washington on Wednesday, but may return for Friday's game against Anaheim.

Washington comes in after losing its second straight game by a 3-1 score, this time to visiting Boston on Monday.

The Capitals dropped to 3-4-2 under coach Glen Hanlon and were denied the 1,000th victory in franchise history.

"After the loss two nights ago, I was harder on myself," Hanlon said. "As far as not winning at home, it's hard to take and nobody likes that."

Part of Washington's problem is its dismal play against the Northeast Division. The Caps are 5-2-1-1 against the Southeast, but just 2-8-2 against teams from the Northeast.

2003-2004 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 10 '04BUF 6 at WSH 0D. Kalinin
Dec 31 '03WSH 1 at BUF 7M. Afinogenov
Dec 27 '03BUF 3 at WSH 1D. Briere
Nov 26 '03WSH 2 at BUF 5M. Satan
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%