Posted December 25, 2011 on
AP on Fox
Toronto Maple Leafs
Both the Washington Capitals and the Buffalo Sabres spent Christmas feeling dissatisfied about their seasons so far. Each team will have plenty to say about whether the other can begin to turn things around before the end of 2011.
The frustrated clubs square off Monday night at Buffalo in the first of two meetings in a five-day span.
The Sabres (16-15-3) haven't exactly played well at the First Niagara Center, going 7-9-3 there, but they must be happy to be back in western New York after getting outscored 15-6 on an 0-3-0 trip before the holiday break.
They had 42 shots Thursday at Toronto and killed all six of the Maple Leafs' power-play opportunities, but that somehow still added up to a 3-2 loss - their eighth defeat in 11 games overall.
"Obviously the couple days rest here is going to be nice to spend time with our families and maybe not think about hockey - think about other things," leading scorer Jason Pominville said. "But we wanted to end this on a pretty good note. The effort was there, the results weren't and if we keep putting efforts on like this and limit those little brain farts a little bit, we're going to get on a roll here."
Much like Buffalo, the Capitals (17-14-2) expect to return to the postseason but find themselves outside of playoff position.
They can at least find reason for optimism after coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the third period Friday at New Jersey, earning a point in a 4-3 shootout loss.
"They never gave up. And we've been doing it lots of times," coach Dale Hunter said. "We came up short, but they never gave up, so that's a good sign for our team."
The Capitals have been outscored in the first and second periods this season, but they have a 39-32 edge in the final 20 minutes of regulation. They haven't been outscored in the final period in nine consecutive games.
"We're really comfortable in the third," center Brooks Laich said. "Teams spend a lot of energy in the first two periods against us and we're able to push in the third, but we have to have that push earlier in the game, too."
Jason Chimera scored twice in the third against the Devils, taking over the team lead with 13 goals - ahead of more likely candidates such as Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin.
Ovechkin, who hasn't had a multipoint game in his last 22 contests, was a minus-4 in a 5-1 loss at Buffalo on Nov. 26. That was one of the roughest games of the season for goalie Tomas Vokoun, and Michal Neuvirth has started the Capitals' last four games after replacing him during a 5-1 loss to Philadelphia earlier this month.
Whichever goalie is in net may not have to face Sabres sniper Thomas Vanek, who couldn't finish his team's most recent game due to an upper-body injury. He's part of a lengthy Buffalo injured list, which includes standout defenseman Tyler Myers, former 40-goal scorer Brad Boyes and newcomer Ville Leino.
Ryan Miller has struggled to carry the load. The former Vezina Trophy winner has a 3.44 goals-against average in eight starts since returning from a concussion, and a 4.45 mark on the Sabres' recent trip.
He's lost four of his last five starts against Washington, which hosts the Sabres on Friday.
BEST OF MAXIM
The Buffalo Sabres are struggling, and there have been recent rumors that owner Terry Pegula is looking to shake things up. Goaltender Ryan Miller’s name has been thrown into those rumors due to his below-average performance this season. But should the Sabres deal Miller? Carolyn and I debate…No, trading a franchise netminder won’t help BuffaloBy Ryan PorthThe Sabres may...
Washington Capitals center Mathieu Perreault was taken to a hospital after sustaining what the team called an upper-body injury in Monday's 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
A team spokesperson said the plan was for Perreault to rejoin the team in Washington on Tuesday after staying in Buffalo overnight, though he noted Perreault may not necessarily stay in the hospital.
Washington Capitals goaltender Tomas Vokoun isn't thrilled with being reduced to a backup.
After starting the season strong, Vokoun has been on the bench since Dec. 13 and seen Michal Neuvirth play the last five contests.
"I can't really tell you. I don't know what I did wrong to be in this spot," Vokoun told the Washington Times. "I'm a professional...
For most of their professional careers, Capitals defensemen John Carlson and Karl Alzner have been attached at the hip. Carlson, 21, and Alzner, 23, who were drafted two years apart, began their professional journeys with the Caps' American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears, developing alongside current Caps like Michal Neuvirth, Mathieu Perreault, and Jay Beagle...
from the Washington Post, It’s unclear when (Mike) Green, who was not made available to comment for this story, will return from his latest setback, a strained right groin muscle that he suffered in mid-November. When Green’s recovery plateaued two weeks ago, the Capitals decided to take an experimental route with his rehabilitation, according to several people familiar with...
The Buffalo Sabres were expected to be among the Stanley Cup contenders after several high-profile offseason moves. Instead, a disappointing December combined with a lengthy injury list has the Sabres in a fight to make the playoffs.
On Nov. 15, the Sabres sat atop the Northeast Division and third in the Eastern Conference with an 11-6-0 record. They had 22 points, one point ahead...
If Buffalo, NY had its own official paper currency, its a lead pipe cinch that the faces of Brayden McNabb and Zack Kassian would appear on it. McNabb has become a true blue and gold folk hero in Buffalo this season. Ditto Kassian. Two young bucks, with blue collar DNA coarsing through their veins, busting their asses, imposing their iron wills to make the Sabres a winning team. More on Kassian...
PHT: Merry Christmas, everyone. We’ve put together a list of the best 10 NHL moments of the past year. Alex Ovechkin's comment toward Bruce Boudreau certainly was one.
NEWARK, N.J. — Outside the friendly confines of Verizon Center, the Washington Capitals know they need to be careful. In hockey, the home team gets the final line change and can set the matchups it wants and can often use that to great advantage. The Caps learned again on Friday ...
The Washington Capitals are in Buffalo, New York, this evening to take on the Sabres in a Boxing Day clash as they attempt to gain some momentum heading out of the Christmas break. The Caps come into tonight's game having gone 5-4-1 over their last ten, including their last game, a 4-3 overtime loss against the Devils on Friday. Overall, they are 17-14-2 on the year for 36...
The Washington Capitals were embarrassed, again, by the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night, falling 4-2 inside First Niagara Center. Michal Neuvirth was pulled after half a period after allowing three goals, and Tomas Vokoun was solid in relief but by then the damage was already done. Matt Hendricks and Alex Ovechkin made it look more respectable with goals well after the result...
BUFFALO, N.Y. — It started poorly: a penalty on Roman Hamrlik just nine seconds in. It got worse: a goal by Jason Pominville on the ensuing power play 42 seconds later. What happened after that almost defies words, as the Washington Capitals put on a listless, lethargic and lackluster performance ...
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Brayden McNabb capped Buffalo's four-goal first period with his first NHL goal and the Sabres cruised to
a 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Monday night.
Captain Jason Pominville, huddled up his troops, and hosted a brief, albeit...