Capitals Beat Buffalo, 4-3; Justin Schultz Tallies Three Points

Photo: Bill Wippert/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 4-3 at KeyBank Center on Friday night. The win lifted the Capitals into a tie kept them into a tie with the New York Islanders for first place in the East Division with both teams having played 41 games this season. Goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 30 saves in the victory.

Capitals’ Lines at Sabres

Photo: @Capitals

Forward Daniel Sprong replaced Daniel Carr. The Capitals made line changes to their top three forward lines after their 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

First Period

Defenseman Brenden Dillon bombed one from up top after defenseman Justin Schultz set it up on a tee for him to open the scoring for the Capitals 2:39 in.

Captain Alex Ovechkin’s wrist shot from up top hit Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and trickled past goaltender Dustin Tokarski through the five-hole to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead at 11:39. With the goal, Ovechkin passed Brett Hull for sixth on the NHL’s all-time even strength goal list with the 456th of his career.

Defenseman Henri Jokiharju wristed one from the left dot and beat Vanecek by the glove after getting a feed from the half-wall by defenseman Rasmus Dahlin to cut the Capitals’ lead in half with 1:34 left in the period.

The Capitals led 10-6 in hits, 5-3 in blocked shots, and did not score on one power play in the first.

The Sabres led 9-7 in shots, won 65% of the faceoffs, and failed to score on two power plays in the opening 20 minutes.

Each team was credited with one takeaway and giveaway.

Second Period

Schultz got the puck off of a draw, stepped into it, and unleashed a howitzer from the slot with Tokarski out of the blue paint to make it 3-1 Capitals 28 seconds into the second.

Center Casey Mittlestadt roofed one under the cross-bar blocker side on Vanecek after forward Rasmus Asplund picked Schultz’s pocket below the goal line to cut the Capitals’ lead to one at 10:08.

The Capitals led 22-21 in shots, including 15-12 in the second period, 18-11 in hits, 10-4 in blocked shots, had two takeaways while the Sabres had four, and did not score on one power play through 40 minutes.

The Sabres won 65% of the draws and did not score on three power plays in the first two periods.

Each team had one takeaway through two.

Third Period

Forward Jakub Vrana blasted one from the right dot after Schultz weaved around a Sabres defender and fed him from over by the blueline to double the Capitals’ lead with 10:12 left. Schultz earned seventh career three-point game.

Center Evgeny Kuznetsov pounced on a rebound from the left dot after Tokarski made a sprawling save on Ovechkin’s shot from the slot with 3:13 left but the goal did not count because forward Tom Wilson was off-side on the play.

forward Tage Thompson tipped a wrist shot from Ristolainen from out high in the slot after a failed clearing attempt by the Capitals to get the Sabres within one with 1:20 left.

The Capitals led 30-29 in shots, 21-16 in hits, 14-12 in blocked shots, had three takeaways while the Sabres had five, and did not score on one power play.

The Sabres led 12-11 in third-period shots, 3-2 in takeaways, won 60% of the draws, and did not score on three power plays.

Each team had 33 shots.

The Capitals visit the Boston Bruins on Sunday night. Action from TD Garden can be seen on NBC Sports Washington beginning at 7 PM ET.

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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