The red hot Capitals continued their winning ways with an eighth victory over Buffalo 2-0. Buffalo tried playing perfect, which negated a lot of their offensive talent and skill. The Sabres failed to eliminate their mistakes and Braden Holtby was a wall, making five or six highlight reel saves to thwart Buffalo’s attempts.
The second period was filled with fireworks. Washington scored just 19 seconds in when Buffalo failed to clear the zone and left Alex Ovechkin alone for an easy one timer in front. Josh Gorges failed to pick up Ovechkin, who scored his 18th of the season.
Buffalo failed on their next few attempts to score in the Washington zone and continued their power play struggles when they couldn’t convert on a slashing penalty by Jay Beagle. Buffalo also failed to convert on another power play later in the period.
Things got very chippy when Nicolas Deslauriers cleanly took down Justin Williams across the blueline, but his stick hit Williams in the face, which cause him to start bleeding and he had to leave the game. Deslauriers soon after was challenged to a fight by Michael Latta as a response to his hit on Williams.
Latta absorbed the worst of brawl with Deslauriers winning and then doing his best to spark the lineup and fans. The rest of the game was filled with hits, including a big check by Ovechkin on Reinhart in the Buffalo zone. While Buffalo responded with physical play themselves, they couldn’t get the jump they needed. Washington then put even more pressure on with Beagle scoring barely two minutes after the fight.
That was all the Caps needed and they locked Buffalo down for majority of the third, outshooting the Sabres, 10-9. Buffalo’s power play failed for a third time and struggled to even get into the Capitals zone for most of it.
Tyler Ennis had a goal disallowed during a scramble in front where the puck slid under Holtby. Dan Bylsma challenged the call, but the refs correctly said it was interference. Buffalo’s last chance to score came with a minute to go when Evander Kane was robbed by Holtby, who made an acrobatic save to the right with his glove.
Overall, Buffalo maybe respected Washington too much tonight and Holtby was fantastic stopping all 31 Buffalo shots. The Sabres need to find a way to start faster. This was another game the Sabres seemed to glide around in the first and not force the issue into the Washington zone. The powerplay needs major work after going a sixth straight game without scoring.
Linus Ullmark: He stopped 24 of 26 tonight and made some really nice saves on shots from the blueline when there was a screen on. He also did a nice job a few odd man rushes. Neither goal was his fault and it was a solid performance.
Jack Eichel: He has played really well since Evander Kane moved back onto his line. He consistently had zip and seemed to like the fast pace the Capitals pushed. He had a great opportunity when he went coast to coast in the 3rd almost deking through the Capitals defenders.
Tyler Ennis: He setup Washington for a nice one timer at one point in the 3rd. That was the type of game he had. Whether he is pushing too hard or just missing chemistry, he has had some killer turnovers recently and that continued again.
Josh Gorges: The first goal really falls on him. At this point in the league he needs to pick up that skater. He also had a few bad turnovers himself in this one.
Buffalo returns to the ice Wednesday in Washington for a rematch with the Capitals at 7 pm.