September 18, 2018

Washington Capitals Game 71 Recap: Caps outlast Sabres, “win” in shootout

One night after playing “playoff atmosphere” hockey to shut out the Boston Bruins, the Caps came out flatter than Stanley, needing a shootout to secure two points from the Buffalo Sabres, a team trying to secure its standing in line for the opportunity for the first pick in next year’s NHL draft.

The Caps (38-23-10) are four points ahead of Boston for the seventh seed in the East and nine clear of Ottawa, which is the first team outside of playoff seeding currently. Boston now has two games in-hand over the Caps and the Senators have three.

Evgeny Kuznetsov was the only player in the shootout to score.

The Sabres scored first, courtesy of a power play goal by Tyler Ennis. The power play came about after Mike Weber checked Nick Backstrom into the end boards awkwardly, then Alex Ovechkin stood up for his fallen teammate. Ovechkin got a double-minor for roughing, despite the fact Weber dropped his gloves to throw punches and Ovechkin did not.

The Caps tied it up moments later on the power play. Matt Niskanen delivered a big shot from center point and Anders Lindback made the kick save, but kicked it straight to Curtis Glencross, alone on the right post. Glencross calmly lifted over the sprawled Lindback for his fourth goal since joining the Caps at the trade deadline.

The tied didn’t last long — 45 seconds, to be exact — as a fluky bounce caromed into the air off a shot from Cody Hodgson, bounced off Holtby’s back, and into the net. Holtby made 30 saves and was brilliant at times and needed to be — considering his defense took much of the night off — but lost track of the puck on this particular play.

Washington evened it early in the second. After killing a penalty, the Caps found some energy. A face-off win led to a scramble in front of the Buffalo net. Marcus Johansson corralled the puck and, while falling, passed to Mike Green at the half-wall. Green then beat an out-of-position Lindback to make it 2-2 with his sixth goal of the year.

Evgeny Kuzntesov made it 3-2 early in the third. At the end of a largely ineffective power play, the Caps rookie controlled the puck in the neutral zone, carried to the high slot and — using Glencross as a screen — whipped a shot past Lindback for the lead and his eighth of the season.

But that lead didn’t stick either. The third line couldn’t clear the zone, and Marcus Foligno’s pass to the slot was tipped by Johan Larson –who’d slipped past Nate Schmidt — for the tying goal with 6:10 to go.

CAPS NOTES:

  • Troy Brouwer took an offensive-zone tripping penalty after Kuznetsov’s goal to give the Sabres a power play midway through the third period of a one-goal game. If Kuznetzov or Burakovsky had committed that kind of penalty, we’d see them banished to fourth line minutes or the press box. Brouwer did not miss a shift.
  • Though he didn’t score in regulation, Alex Ovechkin had the best game of the night for the Caps. Nine shots on goal, another 10 blocked and three missed. A season-high 22 shot attempts. Was a beast for most of the night. Too bad no one showed up to help him.
  • Marcus Johansson earned a delay-of-game penalty by out-battling three Sabres for possession in the crease in the third period.
  • In addition to the power play and shootout goal, Kuznetzov had eight shots on goal and played one of his better games of the season.
About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

%d bloggers like this: