The Washington Capitals came into tonight’s game having dropped their last two matchups with the Buffalo Sabres, both in decisive fashion. Although the Caps turned in yet another incomplete effort – coasting through the second period – they came up where it mattered and secured an important victory in the last game of 2011.
The Capitals turned the tables on the Sabres, reversing the trend of their previous games, and scored early (and on the powerplay). Alex Ovechkin took a pass from Tomas Vokoun and streaked down the right side wall, firing a crossing pass that clicked off of defender Christian Ehrhoff’s stick and into the net. Although the scoring did not continue for the remainder of the first period, the hitting certainly did. Jason Chimera fought Mike Weber and Troy Brouwer fought Christian Ehrhoff.
It seemed as though the Caps’ up-tempo game would continue in the second period. Roman Hamrlik fed Alex Semin, who faked a shot, freezing Ryan Miller. Semin deftly passed to Nicklas Backstrom, wide open in the slot, and Backstrom slid home his 100th NHL goal past a diving Miller. For some reason, the Caps lost momentum after that, letting the Sabres spend way too much time in the offensive zone and failing to clear pucks, leading to the Sabres cutting the lead in half late in the second.
The third period was much of the same, with the Caps hanging on to the lead for dear life as the Sabres recorded shot after shot. Late in the third, however, Alex Semin and Nicklas Backstrom set Alex Ovechkin up for a bomb one-timer to give the Caps some insurance and seal the victory.
The Caps first goal came off a lucky bounce. Nice to see those going their way for once.
Ovechkin definitely looks like the Ovechkin of old again. Not sure what changed, but hopefully it is permanent.
The Caps came out hard in the first period, but seemed to fall back into their disturbing trend of settling back for the second, getting outshot handily, 15-6, by the Sabres in that frame.
The Sabres first goal was a direct result of the Caps being unable to clear the puck out of their own zone, another seeming trend this season.
Tomas Vokoun played his second solid game in a row, notching 18 saves and an assist.