Sabres Flatten Capitals, 5-2, In Nicklas Backstrom’s 1,000th Game; Anthony Mantha Scores Twice In As Many Games Since Trade

Photo: Scott Taetch/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals fell to the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 5-2 at Capital One Arena on Thursday night in center Nicklas Backstrom’s 1,000th career NHL game. The loss kept the Capitals two points ahead of the New York Islanders for first place in the East Division. Goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 17 saves in the loss before being replaced by Craig Anderson, who stopped all eight shots he faced.

Capitals’ Lines vs. Sabres

Photo: @Capitals

The Capitals made no line changes from their 6-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night other than in goal. Goaltender Ilya Samsonov (upper-body injury) did not suit up.

First Period

Forward Sam Reinhart tipped center Dylan Cozen’s wrister from the point from the slot and through the arm of Vanecek to give the Sabres the first goal of the game with 1:50 left in the first frame.

Defenseman Dmitry Orlov blasted forward T.J. Oshie’s feed from up top after Oshie went around the net and put the puck on a tee for him to tie it with 22.5 seconds to go in the first. Oshie extended his point streak to five games with the assist. Orlov extended his to three.

The Capitals led 6-4 in blocked shots, 10-4 in hits, and won 60% of the draws through one period.

The Sabres led 12-8 in shots, 5-2 in takeaways, had three giveaways while the Capitals had six, and did not score on their lone power play of the opening stanza.

Second Period

Forward Victor Olofsson pinched at the blueline to force a turnover off of the wall by Capitals defenseman Justin Schultz, walked in, and sniped one past Vanecek to the glove side to give the Sabres the lead back 1:36 into the second.

Forward Casey Mittlestadt went to the roof from the left dot after Schultz pinched too early and forward Anders Bjork chipped the puck off the boards and to Mittlestadt on an odd man break to make it 3-1 4:06 later.

Forward Anthony Mantha tapped home defenseman John Carlson’s feed from the dot on the doorstep on a delayed penalty for the Sabres to cut their lead to one 9:59 into the second. Mantha became just the eighth player in Capitals history to score a goal in each of his first two or more games with the franchise and first since Sergei Berezin in 2002-03 (three).

Bjork blasted a one-timer past the blocker of Vanecek after center Dylan Cozens retrieved the puck in a crowd for the loose biscuit to double the Sabres’ lead at 13:23. Back-up goaltender Craig Anderson replaced Vanecek after the 25-year-old gave up four goals on 21 shots.

The Capitals led 25-13 in hits and won 64% of the draws through 40 minutes.

The Sabres led 25-16 in shots, including 13-8 in second, 12-7 in blocked shots, 7-4 in takeaways, and had four giveaways while the Capitals had 11 through two.

Each team failed to convert on one power play in the first two periods.

Third Period

Forward Tage Thompson scored on an empty net off of a defensive-some turnover by Orlov to make it 5-2 with 43 seconds left.

The Capitals led 12-5 in the third-period shots, 27-13 in hits, won 61% of the draws, and failed to score on three power plays.

The Sabres led 30-29 in shots, 14-10 in blocked shots, 9-5 in takeaways, had five giveaways while the Capitals had 15, and did not score on two opportunities on the man advantage.

The Capitals visit the Flyers for the final time this season on Saturday afternoon. Action from Wells Fargo Center can be seen on NBC Sports Washington locally or NHL Network nationally beginning at 12:30 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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10 Responses to Sabres Flatten Capitals, 5-2, In Nicklas Backstrom’s 1,000th Game; Anthony Mantha Scores Twice In As Many Games Since Trade

  1. Diane Doyle says:

    This game was regression to the mean at work. Caps due to have a stinker. Buffalo due to beat Caps. And Dustin Tokarski due to finally win an NHL game. A shame Nick’s 1000 game milestone was wasted as his 700th assist was also wasted in a loss.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Missed opportunity. No more cupcake games from here on out. Flyers will be pissed tomorrow, embarrassed in last game. Then Bruins and a three-game set against the Islanders. Last night might have been a “trap game”, if you believe in those.

    • Marky says:

      Every team has a few of these each year and Caps have always responded better the next game but you are right, this stretch coming up right now will give a good indicator as to where they are. Playoffs coming soon. They will be ready but not sure how far they can get this year and G tending is a bit shaky now.

      • Jon Sorensen says:

        We will learn a lot over the 7-10 days, facing pissed off Flyers and Bruins teams this weekend and a three-game set with the Islanders. Next five games will say a lot.

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