December 11, 2018

Washington Capitals Game 45 Recap: Capitals drop lackluster 2-1 outing to Sabres

Photo by Patrick McDermott

Photo by Patrick McDermott

 

“I thought our execution was off,” said Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates after their 2-1 shootout loss to the basement-dwelling Buffalo Sabres on Sunday afternoon. It echoed his earlier sentiment that the Sabres “lull teams to sleep” with their passive style of play. It was the first time the Sabres had won on the road since November 5, 2013.

Sunday’s game was the third in four days for the Capitals, who beat the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs in regulation on Thursday and Friday nights, respectively. It makes sense that fatigue is a factor, but when every standings point counts–especially when the upcoming schedule is the toughest competition the Capitals have faced all season–the team should be rising above simple excuses. “We were tired” simply isn’t going to cut it.

Buffalo’s goaltender Ryan Miller has now stopped 77 of 79 shots the Capitals have thrown his way. The Capitals came into Sunday’s game knowing they had to get better traffic in front of Miller and generate quality scoring chances to win.

“You want the points,” said Oates. “You want to get points every single time you can because it will bite you later in the year. We wanted two points, no question, but the way the game was going I’m glad we got one.”

“We were hoping to put together a little run here a little bit. It’s tough for sure. We did salvage a point, which is good thing,” said Joel Ward.

The “I’m glad we got one” attitude, reflected by both Oates and Ward after the game, isn’t going to help in the long run, either. Yes, one standings point is better than zero, but if you aren’t upset at yourself, your teammates, and your players for putting up another lackluster performance against a team that allows the most goals per game in the league, you’re essentially giving everyone a pass.

The Capitals did face a bit of hard luck: Miller deftly swatted a potential go ahead goal from Mikhail Grabovski out of the crease; and Karl Alzner’s goal was waved off because of a Nick Backstrom tripping penalty – all within the last two minutes of regulation. The Capitals subsequently started the overtime period on the penalty kill.

If you need a gauge of just where the Capitals are at this point in the season, think about this: they have lost to the worst team in the league, the Buffalo Sabres, twice in the last two weeks.

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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