Defense Optional: Buffalo Blasts Washington, 7-4; Oshie Scores Fourth Goal In Three Games

Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals fell to the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 7-4 on Sunday afternoon at KeyBank Center in Buffalo. They fall two points behind Buffalo (who have four games in hand) and stay tied with the Detroit Red Wings (four) and Florida Panthers (one) in addition to remaining one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins (four) for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper made 14 saves on 19 shots (.737 save percentage) before getting pulled 30:07 into his second start in 24 hours before Charlie Lindgren pitched 12 of 14 faced (.895).

Washington’s Lines at Buffalo

Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Tom Wilson
Conor Sheary — Nicklas Backstrom — Craig Smith
Sonny Milano — Dylan Strome — T.J. Oshie
Lars Eller — Nic Dowd — Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Martin Fehervary — Nick Jensen
Erik Gustafsson — Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Matt Irwin – Dylan McIlrath


Scratched: D Alexander Alexeyev, C Aliaksei Protas

Injured: D John Carlson (upper-body, missed 26th straight game, out indefinitely); RW Connor Brown (ACL, 58th, indefinite); LW Carl Hagelin (hip, 62nd, indefinite); LW Anthony Mantha (upper-body, third, day-to-day); LW Marcus Johansson (non-COVID-19-related illness, second, day-to-day)

Washington made no lineup changes from their 6-3 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon.

Buffalo’s Lines

Jeff Skinner — Tage Thompson — Jack Quinn
Casey Mittelstadt — Dylan Cozens — Vinnie Hinostroza
J.J. Peterka — Peyton Krebs — Victor Olofsson
Zemgus Girgensons — Tyson Jost — Kyle Okposo

Kale Clague — Mattias Samuelsson
Owen Power — Henri Jokiharju
Jacob Bryson — Ilya Lyubushkin

Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen
Eric Comrie

Scratched: RW Rasmus Asplund, G Craig Anderson

Injured: RW Alex Tuch (lower-body, first, week-to-week); D Rasmus Dahlin (undisclosed, first, day-to-day)

First Period


10:40, 1-0 Buffalo: Cozens wristed a shot high-glove side on Kuemper to the top corner from the slot on a semi-breakaway after getting a pass from the half-wall by Mittlestadt.

14:45, 1-1: After Jensen kept the puck in the offensive zone and laid a feed to a wide open Strome down low from the point, Strome ripped one past the blocker of Lukkonen.

16:35, 2-1 Buffalo: Following a turnover in the defensive zone by Kuznetsov, Thompson picked the puck up in the slot and wristed one blocker-side for his 40th goal of the season.

16:50, 2-2: Oshie one-timed a slapper from the side of the net after a point shot was blocked in front and Strome found him from in front of the goal. Oshie has now scored in three-straight games and has five points in his last three games (four goals). Jensen recorded assists on both of Washington’s first-period goals, his 99th and 100th career assists. Strome’s eight multi-point games this season rank tied for the third-most on the Capitals (Ovechkin: 16; Kuznetsov: 10; Gustafsson: 8).

Shots: 11-10 Washington

Other Notable Stats: Washington led 8-1 in hits but Buffalo, who had just one giveaway while Washington tallied two, led 6-0 in takeaways and won 56% of the draws.

Second Period


5:49, 3-2 Buffalo: Quinn circled behind the net after getting a turnover by Jensen from the right corner, fed Samuelsson who one-timed the puck in the slot, and Skinner pounced on a loose puck behind Kuemper in the paint.

8:36, 4-2: Girgensons potted one between Kuemper’s blocker and the post all alone in front after Okposo picked the puck out of a board battle, skated to the side of the net, and passed it to Girgensons.

10:07, 5-2: Hinostroza capped off a four-way passing play after Power faked a slapper from the high slot and Hinostroza deked and put one into a wide open net at the goal front. Kuemper was pulled following the goal.

12:49, 6-2: Cozens was sent in on a semi-breakaway after Quinn passed the puck to him from the offensive side of the blueline before deking and putting one past the blocker-side of Lindgren.

15:49, 6-3: Ovechkin pounced on a loose puck that went off of the boards and to him at the left post and went glove-side on Lukkonen after Gustafsson wristed a shot from the point. The goal was Ovechkin’s 33rd of the season but first in seven games. Buffalo is the ninth different franchise that Ovechkin has scored at least 40 goals against, passing Marcel Dionne for sole possession of the second most all time. Only Phil Esposito (40 or more goals against 10 different teams) has more, according to NHL PR. Gustafsson extended his assist streak to four games (five) and has recorded 11 in his last 10.

With 3:28 to go, Aube-Kubel tussled with Quinn in the right corner of the defensive zone and took him down the ice with a punch to the left shoulder.

18:40, 6-4: After Mittlestadt threw the puck back into his defensive zone at the offensive blueline, Milano stripped the puck, raced the other way, deked, and backhanded a shot bar down on a breakaway. Sunday marks Milano’s second-straight game with a goal, his 10th of the campaign.

With the clock winding down, Thompson stripped the puck in the corner and fed Skinner in front before Lindgren went down and flashed the blocker.

Shots: 26-19 Buffalo (including 16-8 in the second).

Other Notable Stats: Buffalo, who won 57% of the faceoffs through two, led 10-0 in takeaways and did not score on their lone power play. Washington, who scored on their only man advantage, led 16-3 in hits and had just four takeaways while Buffalo was credited with five. Each team earned six blocked shots.

Third Period


11:52, 7-4: After Mittlestadt sent a pass to from behind the net, Hinostroza set up Cozens in front from the left half-wall. Cozens deked once he got the puck in front of the goal and put a backhanded shot to the top left corner. Cozens finished off the hat trick.

Shots: 38-30 Buffalo (but tied at 11 in the third)

Other Notable Stats: Washington led 17-5 in hits, 10-8 in blocked shots, earned four giveaways while Buffalo tallied seven, and scored once on two power plays. Buffalo led 11-0 in takeaways, won 58% of the faceoffs, and were held off of the scoreboard on three power plays.

Next game: Wednesday at Anaheim Ducks (10 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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11 Responses to Defense Optional: Buffalo Blasts Washington, 7-4; Oshie Scores Fourth Goal In Three Games

  1. Anonymous says:

    If you can’t cycle in Protas, Alexeyev and Lindgren in the second game of a back-to-back, what does that say?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Double poop.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Another five minute stretch that dooms the Caps.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It says great coaching to me. Hurry and extend our genius!

  5. Diane Doyle says:

    I figured it was a bad idea to have Kuemper play both games of a back-to-back set. Based on statistics, most goalies do worse in that situation. And I don’t call yesterday’s workload of nearly 30 saves a light workload.

    Going forward, the Caps should treat the line of Oshie and Strome (and left winger of choice) as their top line. Someone with the player cards has shown they seem to provide the most overall value for offense and defense on our team.

  6. hockeydruid says:

    LMAO….the Gm doesn’t have to trade everyone to tank the HC will do that all by himself with moves like playing the supposed #1 goalie both games in a back-to-back. As this is the oldest team in the league not to sub some younger legs into the lineup just goes to show how inept the HC has become and how rooted he is in playing vets. SO rooted that he is willing to lose games to play his older players.

    With the other teams in the running for the wild card the Caps are officially on the outside looking in as they are not only behind in points but the other teams have 4 games in hand which is enough to shut the door on the Caps. Time to see if anyone else wants any of the UFAs except Gustaffson and TVR. Time to amass picks for this draft and others.

  7. KimRB says:

    Like I said before, Buffalo is a handful. And that game was a very graphic illustration of these current Capitals’ inability to handle fast, aggressive teams. The Buffalo announcers were talking about that. Rob Ray was saying, “get on their defensemen, they’ll turn the puck over”. Touche’

  8. Anonymous says:

    How can They play so diferently only 24 hours appart ? As if there was diferent team on ice today.Honestly ? Only good thing in this game was Fehervary-Jensen duo. Guys are on fire together…..

    Marty has been impressive for some time Now but awfuly underrated. Our best player on ice. Playing Big minutes nearly flawless in 23 years of age. I AM impressed today !

    • hockeydruid says:

      Well to answer your question: back-to-back games, playing the same goalie and not putting in any young fresh legs but instead the same “old” tired legs especially after traveling and playing a game the day before.

  9. DC Scappeli says:

    Cozen tore up the Caps today…wish the Caps centers could play like that, get 20+ goals a season.

    • hockeydruid says:

      IF, and that is a big IF, the HC didnt change lineups every other day maybe either Kuzy or Strome could have 20 goals. The Gm doesnt have to trade any more players to tank the season; just let the HC keep changing his lines and playing the goalie in back-to-ack games and not play any younger legs in a back-to-back that involves travel and he will ensure that the team tanks.

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