Capitals vs. Sabres: Preview and news and notes

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Michal Neuvirth will start for in goal the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon against the Buffalo Sabres. Coach Adam Oates confirmed Saturday that Neuvirth will make his third straight start.

It would have been stunning had Braden Holtby gotten the nod, given Neuvirth’s brilliant performance in Friday night’s overtime loss at the New Jersey Devils. Neuvirth played both sides of the back-to-backs.

“Actually I felt pretty good,” Neuvirth said. “I didn’t have a lot of work [Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens] in the third period. I didn’t skate [Friday] morning and I feel good the whole game.”

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John Carlson could again play with John Erskine as the 22-year-old defenseman tries to shake out of a rough stretch. Carlson has been on the ice for the past seven goals against and 12 of 17 that the Caps have allowed.

“He plays a lot of minutes so he’s going to have more goals against,” Oates explained. “He plays a lot of vulnerable minutes in terms of PK, etc. and that happens. That number doesn’t bother me at all.”

Assistant coach Calle Johansson said last week that Carlson perhaps lacked “focus” because his talent made so much of the game come so easy.

“Maybe it’s a little fatigue sometimes,” Oates said. “Maybe it’s just a little bit of the system, a little bit of responsibilities that we ask versus last year. All in all I think he’s playing very great hockey for us.”

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It remains to be seen whether defenseman Tom Poti will be back in the lineup against the Sabres. Poti played in each of the first three games after a remarkable comeback from a groin injury and fractured pelvis.

Poti sat out Friday night’s game at the Devils, but the 35-year-old said nothing was wrong.

“I’m doing OK,” Poti said. “Had a little talk with the guys [Friday] and a little bit of a lot of games in a lot of nights and a little bit of that, a little bit of timing stuff. Nothing too crazy.”

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Oates didn’t have much of an update Saturday on forward Brooks Laich, who’s on the non-roster list with a groin injury.

“He’s here. Just still going through the process of we don’t want to rush him, we don’t want to set him back,” Oates said. “He took a day off but he has been skating, very lightly, very gingerly.”

There is no timetable for Laich to return to practice, let alone game action.

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