Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
The Washington Capitals defeated the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 4-3 in a shootout at Capital One Arena on Friday night. The win lifted the Capitals to a 3-0-2 record this season, which is good for first in the East Division with eight points. Goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 24 saves in the victory.
Capitals’ Lines vs. Sabres
Forward Jakub Vrana was elevated to the top line. In addition, forward Richard Panik and center Lars Eller came up to the second with center Evgeny Kuznetsov and captain Alex Ovechkin on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler came in for defenseman Dmitry Orlov, who is also on the COVID-19 protocol list. Craig Anderson served as Vanecek after Ilya Samsonov tested positive for the virus.
Forward Eric Staal finished forward Victor Olofsson’s pass into a wide open net from the slot after a turnover from behind the net by Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara to open the scoring 12:33 in.
Center Nicklas Backstrom backhanded a rebound into a wide open net after defenseman Brenden Dillon’s initial shot was robbed by the right pad of Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark at 16:48.
Clean up time for Nicky! pic.twitter.com/YkvZFxb8P3— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 23, 2021
The Capitals led 11-7 in shots, 5-4 in blocked shots, and had one giveaway while the Sabres were credited with two in the first.
The Sabres led 10-8 in hits and didn’t convert on their lone power-play of the period.
Each team won 50% on the draws and had one takeaway in the opening frame.
Center Nic Dowd one-timed a shot in the slot after getting fed by forward Jakub Vrana from behind the goal line to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead 4:14 into the second. With a secondary assist, defenseman John Carlson passed Dale Hunter for the fifth-most assists in franchise history (367).
Center Dylan Cozens stripped the puck from Pinho in the neutral zone, deeked, and went top left corner on Vanecek to tie it for the Sabres 10:43 into the first for his first career NHL goal.
Vrana banged in defenseman Zdeno Chara’s rebound into a wide open net on the doorstep to give the Capitals a 3-2 lead with 6:53 left in the second. It was Chara’s first point as a Capital.
V makes it three goals in five games to start the year! pic.twitter.com/0DSdvVEMr0— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 23, 2021
Center Riley Sheahan backhanded a shot to the left post after dangling around Capitals forward Daniel Sprong just 42 seconds after Vrana gave the Capitals the lead.
The Capitals led 22-21 in shots, 18-14 in hits, 8-7 in blocked shots, 4-2 in takeaways, and didn’t have a power-play through 40 minutes.
The Sabres had two giveaways while the Capitals had four, won 59% of the draws, and didn’t score on their lone man advantage of the first two periods. They also led 14-11 in second-period shots.
Forward Tom Wilson left the game after falling down awkwardly and did not return due to an upper-body injury.
The Capitals led 28-27 in shots, including 7-6 in the third, 24-20 in hits, 5-2 in takeaways, and failed to score on their lone power-play of the game.
The Sabres had three giveaways while the Capitals had seven, 12-11 in blocked shots, won 60% of the draws, and didn’t score on two power plays.
The game would go to overtime.
The shots were 4-0 in favor of the Capitals in overtime and 32-27 in the game.
Forward T.J. Oshie was robbed by the glove of Ullmark.
Sabres captain Jack Eichel hit the post.
Backstrom hit the post to the blocker side of Ullmark.
Sabres forward Taylor Hall was shut down on the five-hole of Vanecek.
Vrana missed the net above the crossbar.
Vanecek robbed Cozens with the glove.
Carlson went five-hole after a slight hesitation to give the Capitals the lead.
Forward Sam Reinhart was stopped by Vanecek with the blocker and the Capitals won.
The Capitals will clash with the Sabres at Capital One Arena again on Sunday. Puck drop is set for 3 PM ET and can be seen on NBC Sports Washington.
By Harrison Brown