“I think we believe we can beat any team in this league, and honestly, any team in this league can play really well on a given night, so you can’t just say because of the Buffalo Sabres’ record, it’s a gimme, and obviously it showed tonight,” said Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby after the team’s 2-1 loss to the lowly Buffalo Sabres.
The Capitals lobbed 44 shots and the kitchen sink at Buffalo’s Jhonas Enroth, but a one-timer from defenseman Matt Niskanen, his first of the season, was the only puck that made it to the back of the net.
Niskanen was filling in at the quarterback position on the power play for Mike Green, who left the game after taking only one shift in the third period.
Barry Trotz told reporters after the game that he didn’t think Green’s injury was serious, but was planning on checking with trainers at some point to confirm.
Holtby stopped 26 of 24 shots, but the blame for the loss could hardly be put on him. Both Buffalo goals were of a fluky nature. Matt Moulson’s second period goal bounced off the boards and over Holtby’s paddle. Holtby called it“one of those freak goals.”
“I was leaning far to my left to be able to see it, the initial shot. I kind of had to move to my right to begin with, and I took a strange hop, lost my footing somehow. I think it went off Carly’s stick and bounced over mine,” he said.
It’s hard to believe it took 20 games for Matt Niskanen to score his first goal as a Capital, but that can be chalked up to not getting as much power play time as Green or John Carlson. If Green is out for any length of time, expect Niskanen to continue filling Green’s spot at the point on the first power play unit.
Niskanen thought that while there were some good takeaways from the game, the Capitals could have done a few things better, like get traffic in front of the net.
“A lot of pucks hit the net. We could get more bodies in front of the crease,” said Niskanen. “Their goalie was good tonight, but I think he saw too many. More than we would like. We’ve got to start working that into our game. We’re doing a lot of good things, but goalies in this league, if they see shots, they’re going to stop them most of the time.”
Nicklas Backstrom, who registered only one shot on goal in the loss, thinks the team is better than their record shows.
“I think we are playing better at home than the results look like. We’ve got to find a way to start winning home games as well,” said Backstrom. “We have to show teams that this our barn and this is where we are going to take most of our points. We need to change that for sure.”