Prior to the game, Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma described the Capitals as “the best team in the league right now.” Washington came in with a seven game winning streak and arguably the league’s best goaltender in Braden Holtby.
Washington proved why they’ve been so good lately, defeating the Sabres by a 2-0 score on Monday night at the First Niagara Center. It was the second shutout of the season for Holtby as the Capitals improved to 15-1-1 over the last 17 games.
After scoring five goals in the third period against Boston on Saturday, the Sabres had an opportunity to keep things rolling, but they couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities.
Alex Ovechkin started the scoring just 19 seconds into the second period as he was all alone in front of the net. He took a pass from Nicklas Backstrom and Linus Ullmark stood no chance as the Capitals’ leading scorer recorded his 18th goal of the season.
Jay Beagle took advantage of a bounce off the boards and tapped it into the net to give Washington a 2-0 lead.
The Sabres appeared to get a goal in the third period on two separate occasions, but both plays didn’t result in goals.
Jamie McGinn took a shot that caused the red light to go off, but the puck hit the outside of the net. Later on, Tyler Ennis pushed a loose puck into the net, but he pushed Holtby as well, so the goal was waived off due to incidental contact.
Holtby appeared to be shaken up on the play, but he would finish the game just as well as he started, robbing Evander Kane with one minute remaining with an impressive glove save.
The Sabres had a few chances on the power play, but couldn’t get anything going on that. They’re now 0-17 with the man advantage over the past six-plus games.
“We stuck with it the whole way, had chances right to the end. Have to get back to what we’ve done that’s had success.” – Sam Reinhart
John Carlson’s streak of 412 consecutive games played was snapped as he was scratched due to an injury. Connor Carrick replaced him and played in his first NHL game since April of 2014.
The Sabres were able to skate with Washington, but Holtby was the different in this one. The Sabres will take on these same Capitals on Wednesday. That game is scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop at the Verizon Center.