Buffalo Sabres

Ovechkin a game-time decision vs. the Sabres

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Alex Ovechkin will be a game-time decision tonight when the Washington Capitals play host to the Buffalo Sabres.

Ovechkin missed Caps’ 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night due to a lower body injury.

It was the first game the Washington captain has missed this season.

As for tonight?

“We’ll see,” Ovechkin told The Washington Post. “I’m probably going to take a warmup and we’ll see how it goes.”

The 29-year-old, who leads the league in both goals (43) and points (67), suffered the injury on Tuesday night in Columbus.

Ovechkin skated briefly Friday, but left the team’s practice early.

“It was a pain, probably if it was a playoff game, I would be in,” he said. “Right now, you don’t want to push when you don’t feel healthy enough. Right now I feel much better so I’m going to try.

“I still was a little bit soreness, but I think you can ask everybody in the locker room right now, somebody have soreness in everybody.”

According to the Post, if Ovechkin can’t go, rookie forward Andre Burakovsky will start his second straight game.

Washington lost its only other meeting with the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Nov. 22.

Following tonight’s game, Washington has three days off prior to playing host to the New York Rangers on Wednesday.

Sabres’ Johnson could be done for the season

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Goaltender Chad Johnson didn’t even get into a game for the Buffalo Sabres yet his season could be over.

The 28-year-old, who was acquired by the Sabres from the New York Islanders on Monday, suffered a lower body injury during the team’s morning skate on Friday and did not dress against the Ottawa Senators.

“Chad, unfortunately, hurt something lower body and he’ll be out for a while,” coach Ted Nolan said per The Buffalo News. “Not day-to-day, it’ll be for a while.”

The Sabres recalled Andrey Makarov and the 21-year-old backed-up Anders Lindback in the 3-2 loss to the Sens.

With 17 games left in the season, could Johnson’s injury be season-ending?

“It possibly could be,” Nolan said. “We’ll get our doctors to look at him, and we’ll see what happens.”

Johnson was 8-8-1 with a 3.08 G.A.A. and an .889 save percentage in 19 games with the Islanders prior to the trade.

Leafs’ Panik latest to be fined for diving

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Toronto forward Richard Panik has become the seventh player to be fined for diving this season, the NHL announced on Thursday:

Panik was issued a Warning following an incident flagged by NHL Hockey Operations during NHL Game No. 824 at Montreal on Feb. 14. His second Citation, which triggered the $2,000 fine, was issued for an incident during NHL Game No. 936 at Washington on Mar. 1.

Capitals defenseman Mike Green received a minor penalty for holding on the play, at 10:57 of the second period.

Here’s video of the incident against the Caps:

With that, Panik joins Islanders goalie Michal Neuvirth (fine occurred while with Buffalo), Montreal’s P.K. Subban, the Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck, Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist, Florida’s Vincent Trocheck and Nashville’s James Neal as the seven players to be publicly outed as divers, under new rules put forth by the league this season.

Introduce yourself: Coburn fights in Lightning debut

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There are plenty of ways to endear yourself to new teammates. Some players buy dinner. Others might score a goal.

Braydon Coburn was acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning to beef up their defense, likely by doing the dirty work. Getting in fights might not be at the top of that list of tasks, but he did so with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno on Tuesday:

Update: Tampa Bay easily won 3-0.

Stewart to open with Vanek, Koivu in Minnesota

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Upon acquiring Chris Stewart from Buffalo yesterday, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said the 27-year-old power forward would be able to play up and down the Minnesota lineup.

To start, though, he’ll be near the top.

Stewart will open on a line with Thomas Vanek and Mikko Koivu, head coach Mike Yeo told KFAN radio on Tuesday. The Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville line will remain intact, meaning the club’s other new forward — Sean Bergenheim — will play with Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle (Bergenheim had debuted on the Koivu-Vanek line.)

It’ll be interesting to see how Stewart fits with his new running mates. It’s clear by both his and Fletcher’s comments that the goal is to provide a physical element and more size; it’s also likely Stewart will be a net-front presence and feed off the offense generated by Vanek (who has nine points in his last 11 games) and Koivu (12 in his last 14.)

“Adding my size and my physicality to that lineup, I think that’s something they’re looking for,” Stewart said, per the Star-Tribune. “I’m a big guy, a power forward, I have some pretty good speed and I like to play a hard-nosed game and get in the corners there and on the forecheck and create turnovers.

“It’s going to be a great challenge. I look forward to it.”