The Washington Capitals lost to the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Saturday night at the First Niagara Center. The Caps are now 33-8-3 and still lead the Metropolitan division by 16 points. The Caps look to bounce back tomorrow night against the New York Rangers at the Verizon Center at 5 p.m.
John Carlson missed his tenth straight game since sustaining a lower body injury against Montreal on December 26th. Brooks Orpik missed his 31st straight game since sustaining a lower body injury in Detroit on November 10th. Jay Beagle missed his eighth straight game due to an injury to his hand he sustained in the game against the Buffalo Sabres on December 30th. Stanislav Galiev, Brooks Laich, and Ryan Stanton were the healthy scratches.
Nothing seemed to go right in this game for the Capitals. For most of the game, the Caps played very sloppy, turning the puck over many times and not making crisp passes to teammates. Braden Holtby was pulled after giving up his third score of the night, but these goals weren’t necessarily Holtby’s fault. The Caps looked very sleepy and didn’t seem ready to play, but every team has these games. Expect the Caps to come out tomorrow with a high level of intensity after a very rough night in Buffalo.
A very fast pace to begin this contest with some sloppy play, but the Capitals managed to get a couple of quality chances near the net early on. The Sabres scored the games first goal at 10:30 with Philip Varone scoring on a rebound. The Capitals received the games first power play after Mark Pysyk went off for elbowing, but the Sabres were able to kill off the power play, but almost immediately after the first power play ended, Dmitry Orlov used his skating to draw a tripping penalty to put the Caps right back on the power play. The aggressive penalty kill of the Sabres led to a short-handed goal at 16:00. Taylor Chorney was called for holding at 18:05. A very sloppy period for the Capitals as they were not able to connect on many passes and had a variety of turnovers.
The Capitals again came out of the gates very flat. Zach Sill was called for holding Jack Eichel just 2:25 into the period, but the Caps were able to kill off the penalty. Evander Kane opened up the scoring in this period with a shot that just snuck by Holtby, who was then replaced by Phillip Grubauer to hopefully give the team a spark. The Capitals went to the power play at 9:29 and began to put lots of pressure on the goal, but Sabres goalie Chad Johnson made lots of impressive stops to keep the Caps from scoring. The Sabres scored on the power play to make the game 4-0 at 15:37 of the period.
The Caps came out playing with a lot more energy, and Marcus Johansson was able to put one in the back of the net to make the game 4-1 with 17 minutes to play. After the goal, the fourth line was able to keep the puck in the offensive zone for an extended period of time, but was unable to score. The Caps went to the man-advantage at 7:20 of the period but were unable to score. They were able to create a few opportunities in the next few minutes, but couldn’t finish. Things started to get a little chippy towards the end as Tom Wilson dropped the gloves with Marcus Foligno. The Caps’ best period was in the third, but their efforts were not enough to mount a come back.
By Gabe Meade