Nicklas Backstrom to hit 1K milestone as Capitals host Sabres


The Washington Capitals have scored 18 goals during their three-game winning streak. For the Buffalo Sabres, when they come to the District on Thursday night, their main problem will be figuring out how to slow down Washington.

The Caps’ win streak started with a 4-3 decision in Buffalo last Friday, and they’ve now scored goals in each of the nine periods during this brief run.

After the Buffalo win, they trounced Boston 8-1 on Sunday before using a four-goal first period to roll over Philadelphia 6-1 on Tuesday. Washington got offensive help from many people in the Flyers’ win but Anthony Mantha, who the Caps got in a trade with Detroit on Monday, scored a goal and an assist and fit right in on the second line with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie.

“It felt great,” Mantha said after the game. “Obviously excited to be here. First couple shifts were a little stressed, but as it went on it kind of got easier for me. Really comfortable in my first game.”

Goalie Ilya Samsonov gave up just the one goal, due mainly to a poor clearing attempt on his part. That came in the first period, and he wouldn’t allow anything else. Coach Peter Laviolette said earlier this week that he’s not going to name a No. 1 goalie, as Samsonov and rookie Vitek Vanecek have done fine splitting the top job.

Backstrom is set to play in his 1,000th career game — all with Washington — while defenseman John Carlson reached two milestones in the game against the Flyers. He now has been in 800 games with 400 assists, and all of those also have been recorded with the Caps.

Alex Ovechkin scored a goal in the Philadelphia game. He’s now notched 728 for his career, and the captain needs just three more to tie Marcel Dionne for fifth place on NHL’s all-time goal-scoring list.

Washington also acquired Michael Raffl from the Flyers on Monday, but he’s out with an unspecified injury and the team hopes for his return soon.

On the injury front, Buffalo got some bad news Wednesday. Team captain Jack Eichel is going to be out for the rest of the season because of a herniated disc in his neck.

The Sabres expect him to be ready to play, though, when the 2021-22 season rolls around. This year, he had two goals and 16 assists for 18 points. He last played on March 7.

Buffalo is coming off a 3-2 shootout loss at Boston on Tuesday. Colin Miller and Rasmus Dahlin both scored for the Sabres, with the latter forcing overtime and then the shootout. The Sabres have been playing better of late, posting points in seven of their last nine contests, going 4-2-3 during that time.

There was no update on goalie Linus Ullmark, who left in the first period of the Boston game with an unspecified injury. Dustin Tokarski took over in net and made 29 saves on 31 shots.

Riley Sheahan also was injured in the first period, returned for the middle stanza, but was out in the third. His status also was unclear as of Wednesday morning.

Anders Bjork, just acquired from Boston, said his first game with Buffalo felt fine, and that it’s just going to take him some time to settle in.

“I think I’ve got a lot more to show and can play a more complete game,” Bjork said. “Some of that’s learning the system a little better and getting to know the guys, my linemates, and things like that. I think I can build a lot and hopefully quickly.”

–Field Level Media

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