The Buffalo Sabres hope their last home game of 2013 will look a lot more like their recent efforts at the First Niagara Center than those from October.
The Sabres host the Washington Capitals today (5 p.m., MSG) having gone 7-4-1 in their last 12 home games. That's after not winning any of their first nine home contests this season.
Buffalo is on a relative roll in general this month, having gone 4-4-2 in its last 10 games – including wins over the Phoenix Coyotes and Boston Bruins. They've gone 3-1-1 in their last five games – the team's best stretch of the season – and have a chance to finish the month above .500.
They host a team on a roll of its own. The Caps have gone 6-2-2 in their last games and are 20-14-4 overall. The Caps are led by Alexander Ovechkin, who has nearly half as many goals by himself (30) as the Sabres have as a team (69).
"He's obviously a big threat with not only his shot, but how many shots he takes in a game," Sabres blueliner Tyler Myers said. "You want to limit his time and space, and try to force him to make a play he doesn't want to make."
The Caps are the seventh-highest-scoring team in the NHL at 2.9 goals per game and boast the best power play, which scores at a 25.9 percent clip. Nicklas Backstrom, Mikhail Grabovski and Joel Ward each also have double-digit goals for Washington, which figures to pose problems for Ryan Miller (9-17-1, 2.76 GAA, .924 save percentage).
The Sabres once again figure to be without leading scorer Cody Hodgson, who's already missed a week with an upper body injury. Ville Leino, Marcus Foligno, Linus Omark and Alexander Sulzer are all recovering from the flu but should play.
Braden Holtby (13-10-2, 3.00 GAA, .915 save percentage) gets the bulk of the time in net for the Caps.
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