Game 77: Busting Caps in Washington

I don’t think any Sabres fans imagined a game in Washington being a laugher, but that’s what this one was. Buffalo came in and crushed a strong home team, 5-1 to claim the 8th seed with five games to go.

 

1st Period: Hodgson nearly setup Vanek to open the scoring up for the Sabres just under two minutes in. It looked like Vanek was too close to elevate the puck over Braden Holtby though. Other than that, it looked like both teams were just kind of feeling each other out during the first five minutes and not really pushing the envelope. As a result, not too many scoring chances happened for either team. I’d give the Caps the early edge in puck possession in the offensive end though.

Washington would continue to gradually escalate the pressure in the Sabres’ zone, but they did not yield. Buffalo would actually get the first goal of the game on a broken play at 11:15 mark. McCormick ended up getting the puck in front of the net as a result of a great pass by Boyes and put a low shot by Holtby. It looked like Pominville had the corner picked to make it 2-0 at the halfway point of the 1st, but Holtby got a piece of the puck. Unfortunately, Kaleta would get called for interference at the 9:34 mark to put Buffalo on the penalty kill. The Caps did nothing with their opportunity though,  thanks to some great positioning by the Sabres. Foligno made a power move from behind the Caps’ net to create a scoring chance that didn’t result in a goal with about five minutes to go. Miller got run into by Brooks Laich. No penalty was called. Ehrhoff left the game after a knee-on-knee collision with Troy Brouwer.

The Sabres would make it 2-0 late in the period. Myers took a shot from the point that resulted in a rebound. Stafford picked up a rebound and shot the puck on goal. It didn’t cross the goalline initially, but Stafford followed up and tap it in the rest of the way. No more scoring took place and it would remain 2-0 heading into period #2

 

2nd Period: Buffalo would make it 3-0 about 2:30 into the period. Hodgson made the smart, simple play and threw the puck on net. Holtby gave up a rebound and the puck ended up on Vanek’s stick. He took a slapshot that went into the net. Ehrhoff would not return to the game from his injury. Holtby got the hook in favor of Michal Neuvirth after that goal. The Caps would respond a couple minutes later and get their first goal. Alexander Semin got the puck right off the faceoff and took a shot through a screen that beat Miller to make it 3-1. Sekera took a shot to his thigh and struggled to get off the ice. He stayed on for close to a minute after he took the shot. The Sabres were down to four defensemen for the time being.

Hodgson would draw a hooking penalty to give Buffalo their first power play of the game. Every shooter on the Sabres seemed to be suffering from “Alexei Zhitnik syndrome,” a.k.a. no one could hit the net. No goals were scored and Kaleta hurt his hand again a short time after the Caps penalty ended.  He would come back though. Regehr would have a  hooking call go against him to give Washington another power play. It would be the Sabres who would score though. Pominville made a phenomenal play to get the puck away from Alex Ovechkin (despite being hooked by him) and he sniped Neuvirth to give Buffalo their three-goal lead back. That’s how it would stay with the 3rd period coming up. Regehr bailed out Leino hard after the latter gave the puck away at his blueline for what looked like a surefire scoring chance.

 

3rd Period: The Leino-Roy-Pominville had a good scoring chance early that got nullified after the net got knocked off. Sekera came back out on the ice for the 3rd. Myers had terrible positioning on Jason Chimera in the neutral zone and was forced to hold him up to give the Caps their 3rd power play. Buffalo gave them nothing but perimeter possession and Miller did his part to keep it a 4-1 game with 13:17 to go.

Stafford would make a great play along the boards in his own in the get the puck up to Ennis to start a 3-on-1 rush. Ennis would wait for the defenseman to bite and then slid the puck over to Stafford who finished off the chance to make it 5-1. Sekera got a free hand on a Caps player and Washington had their 4th power play of the night. Once again, the Caps were denied. Stafford and Foligno ended up on a 2-on-1. The former decided to force a pass instead of shooting the puck, so the chance was negated. Ennis and Stafford would do some sets near the top of the circle and Ennis nearly made it 6-1. He hit the post on the shot from the right circle. There was a little scrum involving Ennis and Stafford near the end of the game. Nothing came of it though and the game ended with a Sabres win.

 

Quick-hits:

-What a complete team effort this was. Everyone stepped up and did their part, blocking shots, finishing checks, and basically doing whatever it took to win.

-I don’t think anyone had a bad game.

-Sekera was a warrior for coming back out there.

-Hopefully Ehrhoff’s injury won’t force Mike Weber back into the lineup.

-Terry Pegula got a hell of a birthday present.

-Pominville’s effort and shorthanded goal was the back-breaker.

-It was cool to see McCormick get the gold helmet.

-Some more good news for Sabres fans. The Leafs are officially eliminated.

 

Game Scoresheet

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