This was not the same Washington Capitals team that Buffalo has handled the last two times these teams have met. After winning 5-1 and 4-2 in their prior meetings this season, the Buffalo Sabres ran into a brick wall Friday night at the Verizon Center in D.C.. Tomas Voukun made 25 saves and held the Buffalo to just one goal as the Washington Capitals defeated Buffalo 3-1. It is the Sabres’ seventh loss in their last nine games and their fifteenth in their last twenty-two.
And to add insult to injury Buffalo lost Christian Ehrhoff to an upper-body injury after a fight late in the first period.
The Sabres started out sloppy and slow right from the start. Mike Weber took a stupid boarding penalty just twenty-seven seconds into the game and Alex Ovechkin was able to put the puck off the stick of Ehrhoff past Ryan Miller to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead just 1:48 into the opening period. Washington had multiple chances to score more in the first period, but Miller was up to the challenge and held them to just the one goal after twenty minutes.
After being outshot 11-2 in the first period, Buffalo finally started to come to life has they put 15 shots on the Washington netminder, but only one, a rebound put-back by Jochen Hecht was able to reach the back of the net to cut the Capitals lead to 2-1. Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek assisted on Hecht’s goal; the assist extended Vanek’s point streak to seven games.
Alex Ovechkin celebrates with his teammates after a Capitals goal
Nicklas Backstrom scored Washington’s second goal of the game 3:52 into the second.
In the third period Buffalo had the Capitals on their heels, but they could not put the puck in the back of the net. Voukun stopped chance after chance and reaped the benefits of a few lucky bounces to keep the Sabres goal total to just one.
Buffalo looked as if they were going to tie the game at any moment, but then Ovechkin put a bullet of a one-timer past a sprawling Miller to put the Capitals up by two with just under six minutes left in the game. It was Ovechkin’s first two goal game since October 29th in Vancouver.
Vanek, who has clearly been Buffalo’s best player all season had 17:02 of time on ice, but up until five minutes remaining in the third, he had just 14-minutes. When a team’s top player is getting just 14-minutes a game, you are not going to win many games.
The Sabres do not have long to sit on this loss as they host Ottawa tomorrow night at 7:30.
Photo courtesy of Sabres.com