(WGR 550) - The Washington Capitals were missing four of their top players, including Alex Ovechkin, and then lost Tom Wilson to injury and still beat the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout, 4-3.
Buffalo had golden opportunities on Vitek Vanecek throughout the game, but their best scorers came up empty again. Even in the shootout, Jack Eichel could’ve won it, but hit the post. Sam Reinhart could’ve kept it going, but shot wide. Taylor Hall could’ve won it, but was stopped by Vanecek.
It was the second-straight game Eichel, Hall and Reinhart were held off the scoresheet.
Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger had to start sitting some players on Friday night.
On Jakub Vrana’s goal at 13:07 of the second period, Rasmus Dahlin lost track of Vrana, who collected a big rebound and made the score 3-2, Washington. From that point on, Dahlin played one more shift, a power play in the third period, where he promptly gave the puck away to Lars Eller. However, he recovered in time to knock the puck off Eller's stick without taking a penalty.
Dahlin, who played 10:08, was on the ice for two goals-against and had two shots on goal.
Tage Thompson sat the whole third period and, in my opinion, is the likely man to come out of the lineup when Kyle Okposo returns on Sunday. Thompson played 8:34 with zeros across the board.
Dahlin had one great play in the second period when he threw a stretch pass to Jeff Skinner, who had a clear cut breakaway, but didn’t even come close to scoring.
Eichel had two very good chances in this game. He had a first period breakaway, where he put the puck over the top of the net, and was alone in the slot with 32.6 second left in regulation and shot the puck right into Vanecek’s stomach.
The bright spot of the night was when Dylan Cozens stole the puck from Brian Pinho at center ice and came in on a 2-on-1 rush with Cody Eakin. Cozens picked the corner right under the crossbar for his first NHL goal.
Eric Staal got his first goal with the Sabres when Victor Olofsson went behind the net and stripped Zdeno Chara of the puck. He then found Staal all alone coming down the slot.
Riley Sheahan got his first goal with the Sabres when Curtis Lazar occupied Chara along the wall, getting punched in the face four or five times. This allowed Sheahan to come out in front, untouched for a backhand goal.
The missing of glorious scoring chances started right away. Hall and Reinhart walked in on a 2-on-0 rush, but Hall made a terrible pass to Reinhart, who would’ve had an open net layup.
The Sabres got to the shootout because they killed off a 4-on-3 power play for 1:50 of overtime. They got big saves from Ullmark, and Henri Jokiharju blocked a big shot from the slot. We only saw 10 seconds of 3-on-3 action because there was never a whistle after Rasmus Ristolainen came out of the penalty box.
Buffalo is now 1-3-1, and losing to a Capitals team that is this shorthanded is totally and completely unacceptable. Washington does not have good goaltending, yet it’s already 3-0-0 against the Sabres. They have gotten six points to Buffalo’s one.
You will never make the playoffs like this.
Playing well is no longer good enough. I’ve watch two seasons of playing well and not getting results. The general manger is different, the coaches are different, many of the players are different, but so far this season, the end result is the same.