Game 35: Can Buffalo play Washington at Home More Often?

In what progressively became a bit of a snoozer, Buffalo used a four-goal outburst in the 1st period to beat the Washington Capitals, 4-2. Ryan Miller had very little work, but was rock-solid between the pipes.

 

1st Period: Buffalo had a quick-start to say the least. Roman Hamrlik took a penalty less than a minute into the game and the Sabres would capitalize right away. After briefly clearing the puck on the penalty kill, Jordan Leopold took the puck back into the zone and threaded a pass into the middle of the Caps’ zone to Stafford who then dished off to Pominville for a one-timer that made it 1-0. A couple minutes after that, Luke Adam and Zack Kassian did a great job tying up their assignments to allow Matt Ellis to maneuver into the slot to slide the puck past Neuvirth to give Buffalo a 2-0 lead. The Sabres would continue to carry play and give Ryan Miller a pretty easy first 6-7 minutes. Kaleta tried to give a big hit to Ovechkin, but he dodged Kaleta and during that sequence, Kaleta stuck his foot out and unintentionally tripped him to give Washington a power play chance. They had some decent puck possession during the last 30 seconds of their power play, but no real scoring chances come about. Buffalo killed the penalty in impressive fashion. About a minute after the Caps’ power play ended, Christian Ehrhoff sniped Neuvirth from the point along the boards to chase the Washington goaltender and extend the Sabres lead to 3-0.

Oveckin took a very undisciplined penalty on Boyes shorty after the Ehrhoff goal to give the Sabres another power play opportunity. This power play was decidedly worse than the last one, but it yielded the same result. Brad Boyes carried the puck and dangled a couple of Caps’ PKers and gave the puck to McNabb who took a shot through a screen to give Buffalo yet another goal to make it 4-0. The goal was McNabb’s 1st career point and goal in the NHL. Luke Adam was also creating havoc in front of the net during that goal and may have tipped the shot; it was hard to tell. Despite being down 4-0, Washington still showed zero signs of urgency and Buffalo continued to dominate play. Towards the end of the period, Mike Weber took a tripping penalty on Oveckin, but the Sabres were able to kill off part of the power play to end the 1st period.

 

2nd Period: The Caps continued to show disinterest, promptly giving up a 3-on-1 short-handed rush to the Sabres. Gaustad cranked a shot off the post that sent Washington back the other way with their own 3-on-1, but Buffalo came back to break-up the play and Regehr made a great play on Johansson to block the pass. For the first five minutes and change, it looked a repeat of the first period: Buffalo was firing on all cylinders and the Caps were still stalled in the driveway. Joel Ward took a hooking penalty on Roy to give the Sabres yet another chance on the power play. I thought it looked better than their chance, but they wouldn’t score; Buffalo did hit the post a couple of times though. McNabb took a penalty after that to give the Caps a chance to break the shutout. There was some movement, but most of it was on the perimeter. Not much materialized for Washington in the way of scoring chances. After that, other than Sekera hitting the goal post, both teams weren’t generating too many shots on goal. The highlight of the night came with about five minutes left in the period though. Alex Ovechkin tried to beat Regehr on the outside and Regehr just obliterated him behind the Sabres’ net.  With 17 seconds left in the second, Gaustad made a weak clearing attempt of his zone that didn’t make it out and the point shot from Matt Hendricks got through a mass of humanity in front of Miller to break the shutout, making the score, 4-1 Sabres at the end of the 2nd.

 

3rd Period: There was a little more back-and-forth action during this period, but it was still a pretty boring 7-8 minutes to start the period. Stafford made a great move to get around the Caps’ defenseman, but couldn’t convert and Kassian blasted Ovechkin along the boards in the neutral zone. Ovie couldn’t have looked more indifferent about what had just happened to him for some reason. Kaleta would take a similar penalty to the one he took earlier in the game, only this time, it would cost his team. Ovechkin got the puck in the slot and picked the corner to make it 4-2 Buffalo. Miller was badly screened by Troy Brouwer on the goal. The Caps tried giving that momentum back though. Brooks Laich tripped up Leopold behind the net to give Buffalo their fourth power play of the night. They did nothing with the opportunity though. Brad Boyes had a wide-open net to shoot at as the penalty expired, but he somehow missed with the backhand.  Mathieu Perreault took a charging penalty with about three minutes left in the game. Again, they didn’t score, but they moved the puck a little better and they did kill off the majority of the remaining time left in the 3rd. Washington wouldn’t score at all after their penalty expired and the game ended up 4-2.

 

Quick-hit time:

-Robyn Regehr usually does his great defensive work pretty quietly, but he was loud tonight. Between breaking up some Caps’ scoring chances and crushing Ovechkin, Regehr was very noticeable out there.

-Wasn’t a fan of the way the PK played on Washington’s 2nd goal. They were undisciplined and let Ovechkin have plenty of time and space to score that goal. Other than that, they looked very good.

-The only Buffalo Sabres player I didn’t like tonight was Pat Kaleta. He took a couple of dumb penalties and didn’t contribute when he was on the ice.

-Any player that plays with Kassian seems to play better. Matt Ellis looked like he had been taking notes on how Zack does things down-low. Great game by the Ellis-Adam-Kassian line.

-Great 1st games back by Boyes and Hecht, that missed wide-open net chance by Boyes not withstanding.

-Again, big congratulations to Brayden McNabb for getting his 1st career NHL point and goal tonight.

-Drew Stafford needs to keep doing what he did tonight. More north-south play and firing shots on goal when possible and less east-west play and playing around with the puck.

-As great as that start was for Buffalo tonight, they had a hell of a time finishing. They hit the post four times and Boyes missed a wide-open net. Thank God they were solid defensively.

-Paul Szczechura was sent back to Rochester after the game ended. Good news for Rochester. They get another body back. He had a good stint with Buffalo.

-Somehow, I don’t think Boudreau was the main issue with the Caps. Their GM, George McPhee needs to shake-up that team. Good news though, the Sabres get to play this lifeless hockey team again on Friday!

 

Time

1st Period Scoring

CAPITALS

SABRES

0:51

J.Pominville (12) (PP)
Assists: D.Stafford, J.Leopold

0

1

3:10

M.Ellis (2)
Unassisted

0

2

11:15

C.Ehrhoff (3)
Assists: J.Hecht, T.Vanek

0

3

14:14

B.McNabb (1) (PP)
Assists: B.Boyes, D.Roy

0

4

Time

1st Period Penalties

0:09

R.Hamrlik: 2:00 for Delay of Game

8:11

P.Kaleta: 2:00 for Tripping A.Ovechkin

12:39

A.Ovechkin: 2:00 for Tripping D.Stafford

19:16

M.Weber: 2:00 for Tripping A.Ovechkin

Time

2nd Period Scoring

CAPITALS

SABRES

19:43

M.Hendricks (1)
Assist: M.Perreault

1

4

Time

2nd Period Penalties

5:23

J.Ward: 2:00 for Hooking D.Roy

8:53

B.McNabb: 2:00 for High-sticking A.Semin

Time

3rd Period Scoring

CAPITALS

SABRES

9:51

A.Ovechkin (12) (PP)
Assists: N.Backstrom, D.Wideman

2

4

Time

3rd Period Penalties

9:07

P.Kaleta: 2:00 for Tripping A.Semin

10:11

B.Laich: 2:00 for Tripping J.Leopold

17:06

M.Perreault: 2:00 for Charging J.Leopold

Shots On Goal

1

2

3

Total

Buffalo

8

5

10

23

Washington

9

5

8

22

 

Team Stats

Hits

Giveaways

Takeaways

Faceoffs Won

PIM

Buffalo

19

10

8

31

8

Washington

26

8

1

22

10

 

Game Scoresheet

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