|NHL Betting Preview: Washington at Buffalo|
|Written by TheSpread|
|Tuesday, 26 December 2006 04:26|
Despite High Price, Bettors Favor Sabres Over Capitals
Ovechkin faces the Sabres for the first time since his first career ejection when the Capitals visit HSBC Arena on Tuesday.
Ovechkin checked Sabres star Daniel Briere from behind into the boards in Washington's 7-4 victory on Dec. 2. That set off several skirmishes, and Buffalo's Paul Gaustad went after Ovechkin, who did not throw a punch in retaliation.
``He got turned around and I hit him,'' Ovechkin said. ``I didn't want to give him some injury. It was an accident.''
Ovechkin, along with Gaustad and Buffalo's Adam Mair, received game misconducts, and 79 minutes in penalties were assessed in total. The Sabres were hoping for a suspension, but Ovechkin never received one.
''(Briere) was defenseless. He went headfirst into the boards,'' Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. ``I think if (Washington) looked at it through their eyes and it was Ovechkin going headfirst into the wall, I think they'd feel the same way. We don't need those plays in the game.''
Ruff wasn't upset at his players' reaction to the hit.
``I like the way we reacted to that play,'' he told the Sabres' official Web site. ``I don't care if Gaustad gets kicked out of a game for doing what he did. He needed to do what he did and Mair's going to be right there behind him.''
Ovechkin, who scored a goal before the ejection, is tied with Atlanta's Marian Hossa for the league lead with 24 goals and is tied for fourth with 47 points. The reigning Calder Trophy winner had a goal and an assist in Saturday's 3-2 win over Toronto - the eighth in 12 games for Washington (16-12-7).
Enforcer Donald Brashear helped out in the most recent win, getting into a fight with Toronto's Wade Belak after Mats Sundin scored a pair of goals 14 seconds apart in the third period to pull the Maple Leafs within one.
``Brashear did a good job in his scrap to settle things down,'' Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said.
The Sabres (25-7-3) have dropped three of their last four but lead the Eastern Conference with 53 points, second-most in the NHL behind Anaheim (60).
Buffalo is coming off Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to St. Louis. Jason Pominville had a goal and an assist and Briere had a pair of assists for the Sabres, who fell to 17-2-1 when leading heading into the third period.
Backup goaltender Martin Biron started for the second straight game and made 29 saves. He has allowed five goals in the two outings. Starter Ryan Miller gave up three goals in the first 7:45 of the 7-4 loss to the Caps earlier this month.
After a pair of games on the road, including a 7-2 win at Nashville on Thursday, Buffalo is opening a four-game homestand. The Sabres have won seven of their last nine games against the Capitals and four of six in Buffalo.
by: Gary Roberts - theSpread.com - Email Us
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