February 17, 2019

Washington Capitals Game 39 Recap: Capitals fall 2-1 to Sabres in shootout

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 29: Matt Ellis #37 of the Buffalo Sabres defends against Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals at First Niagara Center on December 29, 2013 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

BUFFALO, NY – DECEMBER 29: Matt Ellis #37 of the Buffalo Sabres defends against Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals at First Niagara Center on December 29, 2013 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

This season, the Capitals have been lucky to win games solely on their goaltender’s merit on several occasions, and haven’t faced another truly “hot” goalie until their trip to Buffalo on Sunday night. They peppered Ryan Miller with 50 shots on goal, but lost 2-1 in a shootout to the struggling Sabres, who only managed 17 shots on goal. It was the first time the Capitals have outshot an opponent in their last six games.

Troy Brouwer answered the Sabres’ late second period tally with one of his own in the third, the Capitals’ only goal of the game. “I thought that was the best game I’ve seen (Troy) Brouwer play,” coach Adam Oates told reporters after the game. In addition to his goal, Brouwer had five shots on goal, and went 83 percent in the dot, winning 5 of 6 faceoffs.

Alex Ovechkin had a team-high 12 shots on goal, but couldn’t score on Miller, and failed to earn a point.

Philipp Grubauer made his eighth start in the team’s last nine games. While he was solid, and didn’t face a whole lot of traffic, it might be time to give Braden Holtby a few starts. Yes, he’s had a rough season so far, but out-of-this-world goaltending will only go so far when there are glaring defensive issues in front of the goaltender.

Whatever it is that Holtby is going through, he’s not going to figure it out while sitting on the bench in favor of the backup’s backup, no matter how talented he is. Grubauer is unquestionably talented, but Holtby is the Capitals’ starting goalie, and should be allowed to work out his growing pains in the crease.

About Katie Brown

Katie Brown is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Capitals. She resides in Arlington, VA, and developed a love for the sport of hockey as a youngster while watching her brothers play. Katie works at a nonprofit organization by day but the rest of her time is devoted to watching, writing, and talking about hockey and perfecting her mean one-timer. She is co-host of Girls Just Wanna Have Puck podcast. You can follow Katie on Twitter @katie_brown47.

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