Capitals Foil Sabres, 3-2; Alex Ovechkin Scores 35th Goal of the Season

Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in a Presidents Day matinee matchup on the shores of Lake Erie, reclaiming the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. The game was a nice response to their dreadful 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday. Philipp Grubauer had 32 stops to pick up his sixth win of the season. The Caps and Sabres have a rematch on Saturday night at Capital One Arena. 

Capitals’ Lines vs. Buffalo Sabres


First Period

No scoring in the first frame, but the Caps looked much better than they did against Chicago. The Capitals led 14-10 in shots, won 60% of the faceoffs in the period, and led 2-0 in takeaways. Buffalo had the 9-7 advantage in hits and 4-1 in blocked shots. The Capitals had four giveaways to the Sabres’ one.

Second Period

After going without a shot attempt for the first time in his career, Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading 35th of the season and the 593rd goal in his career. He deflected Christian Djoos’ shot from the point after Djoos took a cross-ice feed from John Carlson. The goal came 1:18 into the middle frame to give the Capitals the 1-0 lead.

John Carlson scored from the crease for his 11th goal of the season and his second point of the day. T.J. Oshie and Jakub Vrana picked up assists on the goal. The Capitals took the 2-0 lead at 13:33. Carlson’s goal came after a scrum at the side of the net. Sabres forward Kyle Okposo kicked the puck out of the goal, and the call on the ice was “no goal” but the Caps challenged the call at the next stoppage and a video review clearly showed that the puck crossed the goal line.

Interestingly, while the clock was reset to the time of the goal, a penalty called against Evgeny Kuznetsov after the “no goal” and before the video review was still enforced and the Caps went to the penalty kill. Buffalo failed to score.

The Capitals led 24-17 in shots through 40 minutes and 10-7 in the second period. The Capitals won 59% of the faceoffs through two. The Sabres led 7-3 in blocked shots, 3-2 in takeaways, and 16-10 in hits. The Capitals had six giveaways to the Sabres’ two.

Third Period

Kyle Okposo ended Grubauer’s shutout bid after deflecting Scott Wilson’s shot from the slot in the leg. The goal came at 12:42 to cut the Washington lead in half.

Evgeny Kuznetsov played a game of cat and mouse with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and caught him turning it over in the offensive zone. Kuznetsov stripped the puck and skated in to put the puck into the empty net. Washington would seal it 3-1 with Kuznetsov’s tally.

Evander Kane made it 3-2 with 3.3 left taking a pass from Ryan O’Reilly on a 6-on-5. He was wide open and swept it into the net to cut the Capitals’ lead to one.

Philipp Grubauer made 32 saves in the win and the Capitals hung on to win despite a late push by Buffalo. The Capitals now have a one-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Sabres led in shots 17-6 and managed to take the lead in shots 34-30 after the Capitals had a 24-17 shot advantage through two periods. The Sabres led the Capitals 21-12 in hits and 4-2 in takeaways. The Capitals had 11 giveaways to the Sabres’ four. The Capitals won 55% of the faceoffs and 10-9 in blocked shots.

Capitals Return From Road Trip, Host Tampa Bay on Tuesday

The Capitals are right back at it tomorrow night, hosting the Eastern Conference-leading-Tampa Bay Lightning. The Capitals and Lightning have met twice this year. Tampa Bay struck the Capitals 4-3 October 9 in overtime at Amalie Arena before the Capitals returned the favor on November 24, beating Tampa Bay by a 3-1 final at Capital One Arena. Tampa Bay leads the Eastern Conference with 81 points and the NHL with 211 goals for. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM on NBC Sports Washington.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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9 Responses to Capitals Foil Sabres, 3-2; Alex Ovechkin Scores 35th Goal of the Season

  1. Anonymous says:

    Grubbie played well again!

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  5. This was a big response from the boys after a drubbing the other night

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