(WGR 550) - Jack Eichel scored the lone shootout goal, and Linus Ullmark made three shootout saves to give the Buffalo Sabres a 4-3 win in Washington over the Capitals on Sunday afternoon.
Buffalo takes home three out of four points from the Capitals and raised its record to 2-3-1 overall.
Eichel still hasn’t scored a goal, but had numerous chances in this game, firing eight shots on goal. Taylor Hall hit the post on a penalty shot and had seven shots, giving the Sabres' two stars 15 of Buffalo’s 48 shots on goal.
What saved the Sabres is they went 3-for-5 on the power play.
Colin Miller’s screened blast from the point tied the game at 1-1 in the second period. Minutes later, Sam Reinhart's beautiful pass to Victor Olofsson in the right circle for a one-timer helped tie the game again at 2-2. Then in the third period, Eric Staal’s one-timer from the right circle gave Buffalo a 3-2 lead.
The problem for Buffalo was the team only killed one of three penalties against them.
The Sabres had 16 shots in the first period, but I thought they looked pretty uninspired. Vitek Vanecek kicked huge rebounds out and there was almost never any Sabres players to be found or fighting to get to the free second chance. The only time they did was on the first one when Reinhart picked up the puck, but put it right back into Vanecek.
In the second period, I saw some passion and saw some urgency, and it turned into 19 shots on goal and many Grade-A scoring chances. The team started working and started to move their feet to not only get to the battles, but show some passion to win the battles.
By the time the second period was over, Ullmark had been scored on twice and neither was his fault. On the first goal, he was screened and never saw the shot. On the second goal, it was tipped three feet off the ice by T.J. Oshie.
It’s still troubling that Eichel and Hall had all sorts of chances and have scored once this season. Jeff Skinner wasn’t as good as he had been recently, and he still hasn’t scored either.
Casey Mittelstadt was called up from the taxi squad and got an assist on Miller’s goal. Kyle Okposo also played his first game of the season and wound up on Eric Staal’s line by the third period.
Mittelstadt only played 10 minutes, which didn’t allow him to get into the flow of the game.
Ullmark gave up a really bad goal to Nick Backstrom, who banked the puck in off the goaltender from behind the net. After that, Ullmark got his concentration back and made huge saves in the overtime. Ullmark stopped Justin Schultz off a 2-on-1 and Backstrom on a breakaway.
It was a fun overtime to watch, as Buffalo had five shots, while Washington had four. In two shootouts, Ullmark stopped the one of the league’s best in Oshie twice, and made six saves on seven attempts.
The Sabres had been settling for playing very well, but not getting results just like they did last year. It was nice to see them say enough is enough in this game and leave Washington with three out of four points.