Capitals Come Back To Slip By Sabres, 3-2 (SO); Ovechkin Extends Point-Streak To Five

Photo: Ben Green/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 3-2 in a shootout at KeyBank Center on Saturday night, when they won their third game in their last four (3-1-0). The two points lifted the Capitals into a one-point lead for first place in the Metropolitan Division, though the New York Rangers (who are right behind them) have two games in hand. Goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 29 saves in the victory.

Capitals’ Lines at Sabres

Graphic: @Capitals

Center Michael Sgarbossa drew into the lineup with right-wing Tom Wilson out but center Aliaksei Protas took Wilson’s spot on the top-line while he centered the fourth. Defenseman Martin Fehervary played after missing the third period of the team’s 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday with a lower-body injury and going into Saturday’s game as a game-time decision. Left-wing Conor Sheary played in his 400th career NHL game against his former team.

Scratched: LHD Dennis Cholowski, G Zach Fucale

Injured: Wilson (lower-body, missed first game, day-to-day), C Nicklas Backstrom (hip, 28th, week-to-week), LW Anthony Mantha (shoulder, 18th, indefinite)

COVID-19 protocol: RHD Trevor Van Riemsdyk (fourth), C Nic Dowd (fourth), RW Garnet Hathaway (third)

First Period

Center Lars Eller buried Sheary’s cross-ice feed past the stick of goaltender Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen on a two-on-one rush after exiting the defensive zone to grab a 1-0 lead for the Capitals 3:40 into the game. The 32-year-old extended his point-streak to three games where he has earned two goals and three points and goal-streak to two.

A shift after right-wing T.J. Oshie scored but the goal was called off due to goalie interference, left-wing Vinnie Hinostroza put one off of the pipe and in on a breakaway after getting a stretch pass from defenseman Robert Hagg at 13:48.

The Capitals led 9-3 in hits, 4-3 in blocked shots, and had one giveaway while the Sabres had two in the first.

The Sabres led 13-10 in shots, 1-0 in takeaways, and won 61% of the draws through two minutes.

Neither team had a power play to work with in the period.

Second Period

Defenseman Will Butcher put a wrister through the five-hole of Vanecek from the slot after getting a feed by center Dylan Cozens at the right dot to give Buffalo the 2-1 lead 2:09 in.

The Capitals led 13-10 in second-period shots, 15-7 in hits, and failed to score on a power play through two.

The Sabres led 2-0 in takeaways, had two giveaways while the Capitals had four, won 61% of the faceoffs, and did not get a power play in the first 40 minutes.

Each team posted 23 shots and six blocked shots through 40.

Third Period

Fehervary blasted a short pass from captain Alex Ovechkin, who earned his third assist in two games and fifth in three, at the half-wall past the glove of Lukkonen from the left dot to tie it 5:41 into the third. Ovechkin also has one goal and seven points during a five-game point-streak.

The Capitals led 40-29 shots, including 17-6 in the third period, 20-10 in hits, and failed to score on three power plays.

The Sabres led 3-1 in takeaways, 14-8 in blocked shots, had two giveaways while the Capitals had six, won 62% of the faceoffs, and did not get a power play.

Overtime

Each team earned two overtime shots and the Sabres did not score on their lone power play of the game. The Capitals led shots overall, 42-31.

Shootout

Sabres right-wing Tage Thompson hit the post to start the shootout.

Capitals right-wing Daniel Sprong blazed in and wristed one over the glove of Lukkonen.

Cozens hit the post again for the Sabres.

Kuznetsov was shut down by the five-hole of Lukkonen.

Left-wing Victor Olofsson roofed it over the glove of Vanecek to keep the shootout rolling.

Right-wing T.J. Oshie pulled off his signature move and blew one through the five-hole to win it for the Capitals. Oshie now has 46 career shootout goals (fourth-most in NHL history), including 21 game-deciding ones (tied for second).

Next game: at Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday (8 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington in-market, ESPN+ out-of-market)

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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