Capitals Top Sabres, 4-3 (SO); Kuznetsov’s Point-Steak Reaches 11, Ovechkin Earns Goal And Shootout Winner

Photo: @Capitals

The Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 4-3 in a shootout at KeyBank Center on Friday night to climb three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (who have three games in hand) for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and three behind the New York Rangers (one) for third in the Metropolitan Division.

With the win, the Capitals eliminated the league-worst Montreal Canadiens from 2022 Stanley Cup Playoff contention. Goaltender Ilya Samsonov made 20 saves in the victory.

Capitals’ Lines at Sabres

Graphic: @Capitals

Right-wing Tom Wilson and left-wing Conor Sheary flipped spots and defenseman Matt Irwin in addition to Michal Kempny played as the Capitals rolled with 11 forwards and seven blueliners.

Scratched: None

Injured: RW T.J. Oshie (lower-body, missed third straight game, out day-to-day); C Nic Dowd (upper-body, third, day-to-day); Trevor Van Riemsdyk (upper-body, third, week-to-week); LW Carl Hagelin (eye, 10th, indefinitely); LW Joe Snively (upper-body, 10th, week-to-week); C Johan Larsson (lower-body, 22nd, week-to-week)

First Period

Left-wing Anthony Mantha deked in front and backhanded one into an open net at the post with Sabres goaltender Dustin Tokarski out of position to finish a three-way passing play with center Nicklas Backstrom, who backhanded a feed to him from the dot, and right-wing Tom Wilson to get the Capitals on the board at 9:15. The 27-year-old has four goals in his past six games. With the assist, Wilson has established a new single season career high in points (45).

Left-wing Jeff Skinner picked up a loose puck after banking it off of right-wing Tage Thompson’s skate, weaved through the Capitals’ defenders, and backhanded a shot past the blocker of Samsonov after flying into the offensive zone to tie it with 4:11 left.

The Capitals led 11-4 in shots and had one giveaway while the Sabres were credited with three through 20 minutes.

The Sabres led 2-1 in takeaways, 4-3 in blocked shots, and won 58% of the faceoffs in the first.

Each team earned six hits and did not get a full power-play with which to work with in the period.

Second Period

Defenseman Nick Jensen fired one to the roof from up top through a screen after Tokarski robbed right-wing Garnet Hathaway and the Capitals were pouring on some offensive zone pressure to give the Capitals their lead back 4:06 into the second. The 31-year-old scored his career-high fifth goal of the season.

Skinner ripped one through the five-hole of Samsonov from the right dot after defenseman Mattias Samuelson fed him from up top with the Sabres swarming the offensive zone and the Capitals down a man with Carlson off to the bench (helmet popped off) to tie it again at 10:55.

Right-wing Victor Olofsson potted one into an open net at the doorstep after center Casey Mittlestadt executed a give-and-go in front of the net with him to give Buffalo the lead 2:32 later.

Captain Alex Ovechkin blasted a shot to the top left corner off of a faceoff win from center Evgeny Kuznetsov to knot the score up again with 3:13 to go in the second. The goal was the 36-year-old’s 41st of the season. Kuznetsov recorded the primary assist on the goal, extending his point streak to 11 games (seven goals, 14 points). The 29-year-old is one of 10 players this season with a point streak of at least 11 games, and only Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi has a longer active streak (12).

The Capitals led 24-13 in shots (including 13-9 in the second), 8-7 in blocked shots, 13-10 in hits, and won 57% of the draws through 40.

The Sabres had five giveaways while the Capitals earned six and were held scoreless on one man advantage in the first two periods.

Each team put up three takeaways in the first 40 minutes.

Third Period

The Capitals led 33-18 in shots (including 9-5 in the third), 20-12 in hits, had six giveaways while the Sabres tallied eight, and won 54% of the draws.

The Sabres led 12-9 in blocked shots and 6-5 in takeaways.

Each team did not score on one power play.

Overtime

The Capitals led 7-5 in overtime shots and 40-23 in overall ones.

Shootout

Sabres right-wing Tage Thompson weaved in and put the puck off the post to the glove of Samsonov and in.

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom missed the net after deking through the slot.

Mittlestadt deked and was robbed with the blocker.

Kuznetsov took the puck wide, deked, and beat Tokarski to the blocker and tied it.

Right-wing Alex Tuch’s shot went wide to the right post after Samsonov went for the poke check.

Ovechkin ended the shootout, backhanding one blockerside.

The Capitals have won seven of their last eight games that have gone past regulation, dating back to Jan. 18 against the Winnipeg Jets (four overtime wins, three shootout wins).

Next game: Saturday vs. New Jersey Devils (7 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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