Game 23: The Kids Are Alright

Buffalo dismantled the Caps by a score of 5-1. I think it’s safe to say that the Sabres surprised their entire fanbase with their effort tonight. This was easily their most impressive game of the season. They played about as perfect of a game as you can play and they did it with a lineup riddled with Rochester Amerks players, all of whom had a great games.

1st Period: You could see it from the drop of the puck that this was going to be a different game than the one in Columbus. Vanek-Hecht-Pominville had more jump in one shift than they did all game on Friday. The defensive-zone coverage was superb all period long. The only highlight Ovechkin’s night was blowing up TJ Brennan about five minutes into the period. Buffalo would open up the scoring in this game, thanks to some great forechecking by Leino and Szczechura. The latter got the puck out to a wide-open Luke Adam who slammed it home for a 1-0 Sabres lead. Later on, Vanek’s line would rush the puck into the zone and Vanek took a shot from the side of the net that deflected into the air. Pominville used some great hand-eye coordination to knock the puck past Vokoun to make it 2-0 and that’s how the score would stay. In your wildest dreams, you couldn’t imagine this team playing like they did after Friday’s debacle. Every player was contributing and the Caps did nothing offensively. Buffalo had the only power play of the period and while they didn’t score on it, they were moving the puck well and getting good chances.

2nd Period: Washington came out with a little more purpose at the start of the period getting a little flurry of shots on Enroth, but he and the rest of the team was up to the task defensively. Gragnani would have his first real gaff of the game around the 13-minute mark by getting caught on the pinch and letting Jason Chimera blow by him, forcing Ehrhoff to take him down, which resulted in a penalty shot. Chimera would blow the shot by Enroth top-shelf on his blocker-side to cut the Sabres lead in half. Buffalo would respond almost instantly though. Sekera took off like a shot, rushed the puck up the ice, and passed it over to Zack Kassian who would shoot the puck through Vokoun for his 1st career NHL goal. For all intents and purposes, that was a very soft goal that Vokoun gave up though. With all of that being said, the Sabres had their two-goal lead back. From that point on, Buffalo took back control of the momentum of the game and it was pretty much the 1st period, part deux. The Sabres looked good killing off two Caps power plays, one of which was abbreviated.

3rd Period: Buffalo didn’t waste any time expanding their lead. Ville Leino carried the puck in and battled in the corner along with Szczechura and Adam scooped up the puck and skate towards the middle of the ice and crank a great shot passed Vokoun to make it 4-1 Sabres. With about five minutes left, Buffalo found themselves on the penalty kill, but that didn’t matter to Hecht who took the breakaway pass from Gerbe and scored short-side on Vokoun, which was the fifth and final goal of the game. Overall, it was a dull period outside of a hit by Sekera on Laich and the two goals. Buffalo played a very simple and safe game in the third, which is to be expected. They came into the period with a two-goal lead and quickly made it a three-goal lead. No sense in taking any risks.

Here are my quick hits:

-Enroth didn’t have much work, but for the few decent scoring chances the Caps had, he stood tall and rebounded from an awful game against Columbus.

-Paul Szczechura played like a speedier, more-talented version of Matt Ellis. I wouldn’t mind him jumping ahead of Ellis in the recall order.

-Kassian and McNabb both showed why fans can’t wait for them to be a regular part of the lineup. Both of them combined for 11 hits and both of them make this team tougher to play against. I would expect Kassian to go down once the forwards get healthy, but McNabb should play over Gragnani when Regehr comes back.

-RE: Gragnani: Ditto for Brennan.

-It’s hard to believe that he only had 17:28 of ice time because Sekera was a monster on every shift he took. From rushing the puck to some solid physical play, he did it all.

-Christian Ehrhoff had his best game as a Sabre, logging over 27-minutes of ice time and being a great player in both ends of the ice. He stepped out of character a little bit tonight and was more physical as well.

-After being one of the only solid players in the Columbus game, Leopold upped the ante with the game he had tonight. It was awesome to see him and the rest of the vets step up like they did on defense.

-With the opportunities that he and his linemates had, Ville Leino could have matched his point total coming into tonight’s game. He only had a point, but he was very impressive.

-Nice to see Adam not be a passenger. Excellent game in both ends of the ice for him and he scored twice.

-Derek Roy was the only player that I didn’t really like, but his game wasn’t awful and with the way the rest of his team played, it didn’t matter.

-Alex Ovechkin was a disgrace. The guy was a -4 and did nothing but float on the ice.

-How much longer does Bruce Boudreau survive? His team just got destroyed by a slumping Sabres team that was decimated with injuries.

Scoring Per Period

1

2

3

Total

Buffalo

2

1

2

5

Washington

0

1

0

1

Shots On Goal

1

2

3

Total

Buffalo

12

9

7

28

Washington

7

8

12

27

Team Stats

Hits

Giveaways

Takeaways

Faceoffs Won

PIM

Buffalo

29

8

12

26

10

Washington

26

8

2

32

6

Scoring Summary:

Buffalo- Adam (Szczechura), Pominville (Vanek, Ehrhoff), Kassian (Sekera, Roy), Adam (Szczechura, Leino), Hecht SH (Gerbe, Ehrhoff)

Washington- Chimera (Unassisted)

Power Play:

Buffalo: 0-for-2

Washington: 0-for-4

Game Scoresheet

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