On a night where Washington had its 100th consecutive sellout, a sluggish start had the Sabres in a 2-0 hole less than five minutes into the game. Mike Knuble put home his 22nd goal of the season just 37 seconds into the game. Alexander Semin banked in a rebound for the Capitals second goal, which Alex Ovechkin recorded his 50th assists on.
Lindy Ruff had to settle things down, and used his timeout to do so. Shortly after, the Sabres got on the board. A shot from the point by Jason Pominville found Thomas Vanek’s stick and was deflected into the net. The goal was Vanek’s 29th of the season and 200th of his career.
Drew Stafford took a weak shot from the point that caught goaltender Michal Neuvrith by surprise and the Sabres successfully erased a 2-0 deficit quicker than the Captials’ first two goals.
Neither team could score in the second period and the game remained penalty free.
Nathan Gerbe found Paul Gaustad in front of the net, who deked out Neuvirth and put Buffalo on top 3-2. Almost immediately after, Brad Boyes was called for a high sticking penalty, and Washington capitalized.
Knuble tipped in his second goal of the night to knot the game at three.
After Nathan Gerbe worked his way to a breakaway, he was hauled down by defenseman Scott Hannon, who went to the box for holding. This time, Buffalo did score on the power play, but it came with a bit of luck.
Washington’s John Carlson skated into his own goaltender, causing the puck to trickle past the goal line. Stafford got credit for the goal, which was his second of the night and 30th of the season.
Gaustad took a high sticking penalty with a minute and a half to go in the third period. The Capitals pulled Neuvirth and Jason Arnott scored his 400th career goal with 51 seconds to go to tie the game at four, sending the game to overtime.
A shot from Ovechkin deflected off of Pominville and Andrej Sekera and into the net for a Washington win.
It was a tough loss for the Sabres, but they were able to earn a point against the now Conference-leading Captials. Buffalo moves one point ahead of the Rangers, but fall three behind Montreal (6th place) and two ahead of Carolina (9th place).
Considering the Sabres were trailing 2-0, they played well enough to get to overtime.
“We were pretty frustrated the way the game started,” Vanek said. “In the end, it’s a good point this time of year.”
The Sabres needed to get a win as they didn’t get any help around the league. Carolina rallied to defeat the Islanders, 4-2 and Montreal took care of New Jersey, 3-1.
The Bruins officially clinched the Northeast Division with a 3-2 win over Atlanta.
Prior to the game the Washington Capitals honored referee Bill McCreary, who officiated his final game of his career on Saturday. McCreary has been a referee for 17 years and has called 1,737 games.