Sunday night, the Washington Capitals (11-15-1, 23 points) took on the Buffalo Sabres (10-14-4, 24 points), both teams in need of a couple of standings points to keep their heads above water in the Eastern conference.
Just 19 seconds in, Alex Ovechkin scored the game’s maiden goal off a Nicklas Backstrom faceoff win. His fiancée, Maria Kirilenko, was in the arena – the last time she made an appearance, Feb. 23, Ovechkin scored a hat trick in a win against the New Jersey Devils.
The Sabres got one back early in the second period on a Cody Hodgson shot to tie the game 1-1. Five minutes later, Troy Brouwer scored on the power play, all credit to the slick pass from Mike Ribiero that left him wide open in the slot.
Jason Chimera finally burst the dam on his scoring drought and notched his first goal of the season to put the Capitals up 3-1 halfway through the second period. His last goal came against the New York Rangers on May 9, 2012 during Game 6 of their playoff series.
Less than a minute later, Marcus Johansson scored his third goal of the season, and just like that, the Capitals were rolling over the Sabres 4-1. The Sabres answered, and Brian Flynn’s late tally narrowed the score to 4-2.
After a power play goal by Hodgson, his second goal of the game, the Sabres inched ever closer. The Capitals were ever closer to letting yet another lead slip away from them.
Mathieu Perreault, though, sealed the win with his fifth goal of the season after a crucial late penalty kill. Shortly after goaltender Braden Holtby came up with perhaps his biggest save of the game, Perreault danced his way through two Buffalo defensemen and hit the back of the net.
Final score: Capitals 5, Sabres 3. With the next eight of their next nine games on the road, the Capitals desperately needed to start the week off with a win before heading to Pittsburgh — tops in the Eastern Conference — where they’ll take on the Penguins Tuesday evening.