Final

Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Saturday, November 1st
Capitals0Final
Sabres5
Game 2: Friday, December 26th
Sabres2Final
Capitals3
Game 3: Tuesday, December 30th
Capitals4Final
Sabres2
Game 4: Friday, April 3rd
Sabres5Final
OT
Capitals4

Capitals 4

(24-11-3, 51 pts)

Sabres 2

(17-15-5, 39 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 30, 2008

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 T
WSH 2 1 14
BUF 0 0 22

N. Backstrom (Capitals - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

V. Kozlov (Capitals - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

P. Gaustad (Sabres - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

Capitals-Sabres Preview

STATS LLC

Alexander Ovechkin's hot streak has gotten even hotter over the past three games.

Given his history against Buffalo, the league's reigning MVP could continue his scoring binge on Tuesday night as the Washington Capitals travel to meet the Sabres.

On the strength of five goals from their star winger, the Capitals (23-11-3) head to Buffalo (17-14-5) riding a three-game winning streak.

Since Nov. 24, Ovechkin has also scored 17 times in 17 games, including two in Sunday's 4-1 victory over Toronto. He also has scored in five straight meetings with the Sabres, totaling six in that span.

"Everything that's said about Alex -- I mean, until he writes a new chapter next game -- has been said," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It's why he's the MVP and hopefully will be again."

The Capitals have scored 12 times during their streak and averaged 3.55 during an 8-1-0 stretch, even without their other top forward Alexander Semin -- who has missed four straight games with back problems.

Washington has also solid contributions from Brooks Laich, who has five of his 10 goals this season over the last eight games. Nicklas Backstrom has six of his team-high 30 assists in the Caps' last three games.

The renewed play by goalie Jose Theodore hasn't hurt either.

Theodore, the Capitals' top free-agent acquisition in the off-season, has allowed three goals in the past two games and is on his first three-game winning streak with his new club.

"The last two and a half games, I've thought he's played really well," Boudreau said of Theodore, who signed a two-year, $9 million deal in July. "I don't know if the word is confidence. I don't know if the word is focus. I don't know if the word is playing up to your capabilities, but he's playing better."

But Theodore, who is expected to make his fourth straight start, has struggled in Buffalo with a 1-7-0 record and a 3.58 goals-against average. That includes a 5-0 loss on Nov.1, when he allowed three first-period goals on his way to tying a season high.

A former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner, Theodore has lost five straight starts in Buffalo.

Theodore's counterpart -- the Sabres' Ryan Miller -- nearly gave his team their fourth straight loss. Miller allowed the New York Islanders to score twice in the final 1:34 of regulation on Saturday, but stopped both shooters in the tiebreaker as Buffalo won 4-3.

"We have to play better," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We got a little tight. ... Our passing and our execution coming up ice wasn't very good, and it led to them controlling most of the play."

Miller and Patrick Lalime have combined to allow 14 goals in the past four games, but Miller has an 8-2-0 record with a 2.48 GAA against the Capitals, earning the shutout in last month's win.

The Sabres' Clarke MacArthur has four goals in his last five games.

Buffalo has a 14-4-0 mark in the last 18 meetings with Washington, but has lost two of the past three. The Sabres have also won seven of the last nine at home against the Capitals.

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