Struggling Sabres look to get back on track vs. Caps

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Things continue to go from bad to worse for the Buffalo Sabres in their first year under coach Phil Housley. They will look for a different result at home on Tuesday night against the Washington Capitals.

Buffalo (4-8-2) has lost three of its past four games and is coming off one of its most disappointing performances of the season. On Saturday, the Sabres fell to the Dallas Stars in a lopsided 5-1 road defeat.

"When I evaluate the game, I think we played well," Housley said. "The score tells you differently, and there's probably going to be a lot of people that disagree with me. But I think we got the start we wanted. There were some bad bounces that occurred."

One of Buffalo's biggest problems in the loss to the Stars was goaltender Robin Lehner, who was pulled midway through the first period after surrendering three goals on seven shots.

"I have to be better," Lehner said. "It's a game of mistakes. I made a mistake there, and together with a bounce and a good goal there, it's 3-0. It's unfortunate."

On the plus side for the Sabres is some good news on the injury front. Though top defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen remains day-to-day and did not practice on Monday, Nathan Beaulieu and Josh Gorges are expected to return sometime this week, and Zach Bogosian is getting closer to a return as well.

"The bottom line is it's good to see that guys are starting to get healthy now," Housley said. "We've been depleted back there. It's given other guys opportunities, but it's good to see that we're getting close to healthy."

Buffalo's Evander Kane and Jack Eichel are tied for the team lead in points with 13 each. Jason Pominville and Ryan O'Reilly each have 12 points. Lehner has a save percentage of .896 in 10 games.

For the Capitals (8-6-1), it will be their second game in as many days after a 3-2 overtime win over the Arizona Coyotes on Monday. John Carlson scored the winner, and Alex Ovechkin and Devante Smith-Pelly had goals in regulation.

Washington has won three games in a row and believes it is finding its game after an inconsistent start to the season.

"From where we sit right now, every game matters," Carlson said, according to the team's website. "But certainly these divisional and conference opponents, they're huge.

"Especially with the way the playoffs work nowadays, and how the seeding goes, those are four-point games within your conference that you don't want to be looking back and saying, 'Oh, I wish we just came out a little faster or a little better or had a better finish.'"

Evgeny Kuznetsov leads the Capitals with 18 points, and Ovechkin is second with 17. Braden Holtby has a .921 save percentage.

"We're just kind of finding our way, figuring out what's working for us," said Carlson, who leads the league in ice time per game. "We've gotta put a couple of these (wins) together. We didn't start (the season) like we wanted to, so we've got a lot of work to do."

Updated November 7, 2017

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