With a chance to get back into the win column after back to back losses to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Buffalo Sabres came up short in the Verizon Center falling 3-2 to the Washington Capitals. The loss, the Sabres third in a row, drops Buffalo to 2-3-0-0 on the season. The win was the first this year for Washington who had dropped their first four contests for their worst start in 20 years.
Despite entering the contest short-handed, with winger Thomas Vanek sitting out with a muscle strain, Buffalo would strike first on a goal by Tyler Ennis off a nice feed from Steve Ott. That goal was the first of the season for the Sabres that Thomas Vanek was not on the ice for. Marcus Foligno added a late marker in the third for his first goal of the year.
John Erskine’s 2nd period tally put the Capitals on top for good. (Getty Images)
Part of Washington’s struggles out of the gate this season have been getting their big guns going, specifically dynamic winger Alex Ovechkin who had been held goalless in his first 4 games. Early in the 3rd period, on the power-play, Ovechkin blasted a one-timer off a cross ice feed from Mike Green past Miller for his first goal of the season. Alex nearly added an empty net marker with seconds remaining, but his shot caromed off the outside of the net.
In the loss Mikhail Grigorenko amassed over 17 minutes of ice time, the highest total thus far in his pro career. This having been Grigorenko’s fifth game of the season, the Buffalo front office must now decide whether to send Mikhail back to Quebec or keep him in blue and gold. Grigorenko, who has not registered a point this season, may have played his strongest game to date today, but still looks a bit raw and will likely be returned to the QMJHL.
The Sabres faceoff deficiencies were again exposed, even by a Washington team that had come in only marginally better than Buffalo and missing Brooks Laich. Despite this, the Sabres won only 20 of 53 draws, or a measly 37% of their faceoff attempts.
Another disappointing trend continues to be the woeful power-play, as Buffalo went 0-2 dropping their season PP conversion percentage to 19%. Without their most talented scorer, Buffalo needed to take advantage of their power-play opportunities in order to match the desperate Capitals on the road, and they did not.
The Sabres will have an opportunity to redeem themselves while facing a familiar foe on Tuesday night as they’ll host the Toronto Maple Leafs. Buffalo defeated Toronto 2-1 last week in the Air Canada Center.
Feature Image Courtesy of Getty Images. Twitter @SabreHess
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