News and notes as the Capitals [15-17-1, 31 points] face off against the Buffalo Sabres [13-16-5, 31 points] tonight at FirstNiagaraCenter [6:30 p.m. Caps Central, CSN]:
Holtby in: Capitals coach Adam Oates told reporters that Braden Holtby [13-11-0, 2.66] will make his seventh consecutive start tonight. If Holtby plays well and does not get overworked tonight there is a chance he’ll be back between the pipes in Philadelphia Sunday night when the Caps take on the Flyers in a rare 6 p.m. start [CSN]. Holtby is expected to face Buffalo backup Jhonas Enroth [2-2-0, 2.99].
Orlov out: Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov is expected to be a healthy scratch for the first time since being recalled by the Capitals on March 19. Jeff Schultz, a healthy scratch in the past four games, is expected to return to the lineup on a third defense pairing with Steve Oleksy.
Season series: The Caps are 2-0-0 against the Sabres this season, winning 3-2 on Jan. 27 and 5-3 on March 17, both at VerizonCenter. With both teams at 31 points, the winner could move to 10th place in the conference, with the loser falling as low as 13th.
Bottom feeders: The Caps are in the midst of playing seven straight games against teams in the bottom eight in the conference. Following tonight, they face the Flyers, Hurricanes, Islanders, Panthers and Lightning. Their next game against a top eight opponent comes on April 9 against the Canadiens.
Ruff road for Sabres: The Sabres have gone 6-6-4 since Ron Rolston took over for head coach Lindy Ruff, who went 6-10-1 to start the season.
Injury report: John Erskine [upper body] and Tomas Kundratek made the trip but will not play tonight. Alex Ovechkin needed 22 stitches to close a cut in his chin on Thursday but is expected to play. Eric Fehr [upper body] is hoping to join the team in Carolina on Monday. Buffalo’s leading scorer Thomas Vanek [16 goals, 17 assists] is day-to-day with an upper body injury.
Ovi hot: Ovechkin has 7 goals and 12 points in his past 8 games.
Projected lineup: Here are the projected forward lines and defense pairings for tonight:
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-Alex Ovechkin
Brooks Laich-Mike Ribeiro-Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera-Mathieu Perreault-Joel Ward
Matt Hendricks-Jay Beagle-Wojtek Wolski
Karl Alzner-Mike Green
Jack Hillen-John Carlson
Jeff Schultz-Steve Oleksy