Capitals Down Sabres, 3-1; Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson Notch Tallies

Photo: @Capitals

The Washington Capitals downed the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 Thursday night at Capital One Arena. With the win the Capitals record improves to 8-4-3 (19 points) on the season. The Capitals are now alone in second place in the East Divison, three points behind the Boston Bruins.


Vitek Vanecek (6-3-2, 3.06 GAA, .906 SV%) got the start between the pipes for the Capitals. It was his 12th consecutive start. Linus Ullmark (3-2-2, 2.63 GAA, .912 sv%) got the start in goal for the Sabres. The starting forward lines and defensive pairs for the Capitals:

Scratches: Jonas Siegenthaler, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Daniel Sprong.

The opening frame would go scoreless for most of the period. The Sabres would hit two posts early in the first six minutes of the game, with Jakub Vrana also ringing pipe midway through the period.

Linus Ullmark would make a nice stop on Conor Sheary midway through the period to keep the game scoreless.

The Capitals would finally strike first with a power play goal from Nicklas Backstrom (8) at 17:23 of the first period. TJ Oshie (7) and Alex Ovechkin (9) had the helpers.

The first period would end with the Capitals leading 1-0. The Capitals led in shot attempts 15-13 with shots on goal tied 6-6 for the opening period. Buffalo was 0 for 0 and the Capitals 1 for 1 on the power play for the first 20 minutes.

The Capitals would stretch their lead to 2-0 with a shorthanded goal from Tom Wilson (6) at 6:38 of the middle frame.

The period would end with the Capitals leading 2-0. The Capitals led in shot attempts 19-14 in the second period and 34-28 after two periods. The teams tied for shots on goal once again, 11-11 for the middle frame and were tied 17-17 after two periods.

The Capitals would make it 3-0 with a tally from Conor Sheary (4) at 7:28 of the final frame. Lars Eller (4) and Justin Schultz (6) had the assists.

The Sabres would get on the scoreboard with a power play goal from Victor Olofsson (6) at 11:27 of the final frame.

And that would be it, as the Capitals hold on for the 3-1 win.


  • The Capitals won the faceoff battle 51-49%.
  • Nic Dowd won six of his eight defensive zone faceoffs (75%) against Buffalo.
  • Capitals led in shot attempts 42-40 with Sabres leading in shots on goal 23-21.
  • Vitek Vanecek stopped 22 of 23 shots for a .957 game save percentage.
  • In four games this season against Buffalo, Vanecek is 3-0-1 with a 1.92 goals against average and a .938 save percentage.
  • Capitals led in hits 22-17.
  • Alex Ovechkin led all Caps in shots on goal with 4.


  • Backstrom has recorded a point in 13 of the Capitals’ 15 games. Entering tonight’s game, Backstrom was tied with Boston’s Brad Marchand for the most games with a point in the MassMutual East Division.
  • Tom Wilson gave the Caps a 2-0 lead with his sixth goal of the season. He now has 13 points (6g, 7a) in 13 games this season.
  • Wilson’s goal marks his fifth career goal shorthanded. He’s scored at least one shorthanded goal in each of the last four seasons. It’s the first shorthanded goal scored by the Capitals this season.
  • Conor Sheary gives the Caps a 3-0 lead with his second goal in as many games. He now has 10 points (6g, 4a) in 14 career games against the Buffalo Sabres, his former team.
  • Lars Eller earned the primary assist on Sheary’s goal. It marks his 300th career point, the third-highest point total among Danish-born players in NHL history.
  • Justin Schultz earned an assist against the Sabres and has recorded eight points (2g, 6a) over his last six games.
  • Vanecek has stopped 63 of 65 shots faced over his last seven periods, good for a .969 save percentage.
  • Conor Sheary’s 1.86 goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five leads the Capitals and ranks tied for ninth in the NHL among players with at least 10 games played.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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2 Responses to Capitals Down Sabres, 3-1; Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson Notch Tallies

  1. Pingback: Friday Caps Clips: Third Line Theatrics

  2. Marky says:

    Another excellent game by the Caps. Defense and Forwards were hustling and frustrating the Sabres for much of the night. Hope this could be their standard of play from now on.

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