From the looks of today’s morning skates in Buffalo, the Capitals may not have to face goaltender Ryan Miller when they visit the Buffalo Sabres tonight in First Niagara Center [7:30 p.m., NBCSN]. They may also be without center Brooks Laich.
Fifth-year netminder Johnas Enroth [1-10-4, 2.67 GAA, .910 save percentage] is expected to face Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby [14-12-2, 2.90, .913] when the Caps try to win their second straight game for the first time since Jan. 9 and 10.
In his career against the Capitals, Enroth is 1-0-2 with a 2.87 GAA and .910 save percentage. Holtby is 2-1-1 with a 3.41 GAA and .878 save percentage in four career decisions against Buffalo.
Despite owning the NHL’s worst record at 14-30-7, the Sabres haven beaten the Caps twice in shootouts this season, with Miller turning aside 77 of 79 shots in a pair of 2-1 victories.
Regardless of who’s between the pipes, the Caps say they need to run traffic through the crease the way they did Saturday night in Montreal if they hope to continue to produce offense.
“It worked against a pretty good goalie in Carey Price,” Caps right wing Troy Brouwer said. “We want to continue to do that. We’ve been harping on that pretty good. We’ve done a better job reading the play and knowing when we have bodies in front of the net, and knowing when our D-men have a better play going D to D or putting it behind the net.”
Laich participated in Tuesday’s morning skate in Buffalo, centering a second line with Marty Erat and Brouwer. But the Caps were concerned enough with Laich’s health to recall 6-foot-4, 224-pound center Ryan Stoa from the Hershey Bears.
Laich told the Washington Post he is a game-time decision. If he cannot play, look for Stoa to take his place. In 36 games with Hershey this season, Stoa, 26, has nine goals, 15 assists and 39 penalty minutes.
The Caps will be without Mikhail Grabovski for the second straight game as he recovers from a left foot/ankle injury.
“When someone gets hurt it’s always an opportunity for other guys,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “You really see where you are depth-wise with your personnel. You ask guys to play minutes they haven’t played and sometimes they show things that are very encouraging that makes for tough decisions.”