Though they're two of the conference's top clubs, the Capitals and Sabres are on three-game losing streaks entering a matchup at the Verizon Center on Wednesday night.
Washington (13-5-6) has lost four of five (1-2-2) after winning its previous four, falling into a tie with Pittsburgh for the lead in the East. The Capitals' 4-3 overtime loss to Ottawa on Monday night dropped the Sabres (12-6-2) into second place in the Northeast Division, one point behind the Senators.
Buffalo is coming off its own loss to Ottawa, 5-3 on Saturday night, for its season-worst third straight defeat (0-2-1). The Sabres are in the middle of a three-game road trip, but a matchup at Washington could help their cause.
Buffalo is 8-2-0 on the road against the Capitals since the start of the 2003-04 season. The Sabres have won 15 of 20 overall in the series during that span but have yet to face Washington this season.
The injury-riddled Capitals have lost two straight on the road prior to this stop at the Verizon Center, where it is 7-2-3.
Players such as rookie Jay Beagle have had to step up. He posted his first NHL goal versus Ottawa after earning his first point with an assist in his season debut, a 4-2 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
"You score to win," Beagle said. "I scored but at the same point you're disappointed with the loss so it's kind of a bitter feeling."
Teammate Brendan Morrison has four goals and four assists in his last nine games, and he now faces a Buffalo team which has given up 13 goals during its three-game skid.
Patrick Lalime stopped just 21 of 26 shots against the Senators in his third start of the season.
"I don't think we even need to focus on goaltending," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think the focus has to fall on our 5-on-5 play."
Ryan Miller, who leads the NHL with a 1.97 goals-against average, will likely be back in goal for Buffalo. He's 5-0-0 with a 2.91 GAA in six road games against the Capitals.
Jason Pominville has two goals and three assists in his last four games at Washington. He has a goal and an assist in his last two games after being held off the scoresheet in four straight contests.
Thomas Vanek has points in five of his last six games (two goals, four assists).