Okay, NOW Hockey is Back: Caps beat Sabres 3-2

patrick mcdermott

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Although hockey has been back for over a week now, the lockout seemed longer to the Washington Capitals and their fans. Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres put a definitive end to that. The Caps were poised, aggressive, and — most importantly– victorious for the first time this season.

And oh yeah, Ovi scored.

John Carlson allowed a bad breakaway that became a goal for Tyler Ennis, but Joel Ward occupied the slot a few minutes later to restore the tie. John Erskine scored a sneaky goal from outside to give the Caps their first lead since the season home opener vs. Winnipeg. Then, Alex Ovechkin scored a glorious powerplay goal with a one-timer that went top shelf on Ryan Miller. Marcus Foligno got one back for Buffalo, feeding at Neuvirth’s trough to make it 3-2.

Caps beat Sabres 3-2!

  • Welcome back, Alex Ovechkin. That was a monster shot, that game winner, and the kind of one-timer we wanna see more of on the powerplay. It’s like the part in Hook where they have to force Peter Pan’s face into a smile before they recognize him. There you are, Ovi!
  • But maybe nail that empty netter next time?
  • Joel Ward scored 6 goals in 73 games last season. We’ve just wrapped up game 5 of this new season, and he’s already got three. He’s definitely getting some luck (his shooting percentage is like 20% higher than it should be), but he’s getting more ice time and doing more with it than he had been in seasons past. Let’s see more.
  • John Carlson hasn’t missed a game since he joined the team full-time in 2010. After his poor stickhandling gave Tyler Ennis a breakaway goal, it’s perhaps time John ended his iron man streak.
  • On that breakaway, Alex Ovechkin was on neutral ice. As Ennis and company stormed Neuvirth’s net, Ovechkin coasted into the Caps zone without a quantum of urgency. The rest of his game was energetic, but Washington’s captain casually strolling on the backcheck is a really bad visual. I have a feeling more people will remember that sweet one-timer more though.
  • The last time John Erskine scored a goal: Obama was president, global mean temperature was increasing, people were still reading news on their phones, Justin Bieber was famous, and the RMNB site had a big gray thing at the top of every page.
  • Michal Neuvirth‘s save on Mikhail Grigorenko early in the third was a work of art. Neuvy had to go full split to deny the 18-year-old rookie what would have been his first NHL goal. It was a quality start from Michal with smart reads and some groin-defying moves.
  • Two-point games for Mike Ribeiro, Joel Ward, and Jason Chimera. Secondary scoring is going to be absolutely essential in a shortened season, and these are the guys we need producing.
Joe B suit of the night

Joe B suit of the night

I missed much of the last few games (Thanks for the assist, PuckBuddys!), and maybe that’s why I haven’t panicked about the Capitals. Sunday’s game was actually pretty damn encouraging. I liked the shot totals, particularly the volume of shots on the powerplay. I liked Neuvirth’s positional intelligence. I liked Schultz’s physical D, and Jay Beagle playing finesse hockey for a brilliant moment. I liked the Ward-Chimera pairing. I liked the horn guy’s embouchure. I liked Joe B’s suit (look at that stitching!).

It felt like Capitals hockey again.

Don’t get me wrong: I still want more offense, and the Caps won’t truly be back until someone’s groin disintegrates and the Canadian media talks trash about Ovechkin, but this is a good start.

See you on Tuesday!



From Caps Instragram

  • John Erskine scored a sneaky goal from outside to give the Caps their first lead since the HOME opener in Winnipeg.

    Fixed it.

  • Akay15


  • I talked with my fellow citizens, and we’ve decided, for the good of the Caps, Peter’s not allowed back into California.

  • Ahh thanks for the fact-check! Updated.

  • Haha, Annie. You’ve got a deal.

  • Yv

    Preseason was over with Devils game. This was a good, 60-min effort win. Putting Ovi at the end is a huge difference with Adam Oates, comparing with DH. But Ovi really disappointed a lot of fans by missing empty netter, was too casual. Luckily, that miss did not matter and Caps still won.

  • Good point about playing Ovi at the end!

  • Chris

    Not to be extra nit-picky but should be “Home opener vs Winnipeg.” Though as I recall that game, they may as well have spent their home opener in Winnipeg.

  • serpent

    And John’s so darn cute when he smiles!

  • Today’s game was a picture perfect example of how you play hockey with desire and confidence.

  • 1-3-1 btw is a terrific system. Devils won 3 stanley cups in the last 2 decades with this system.

  • GuestZ

    you mean starting the season 1-3-1?

  • Bailamos? :))

    Unfortunately I wasn’t able to watch this game (or, actually, any game apart from the first one) due to time zones, but all the news that I’m hearing has me very excited!

  • No just a fun coincidence. 1 – 3 – 1 is a positional system that employs 3 men in the neutral zone to trap.

  • Rhino40

    Welcome back Peter…

    I liked Schultz’s physical D,

    …so I was not insane after all when I shouted “take that, haters!” after he crunched a Sabre forward, then emerged with (and subsequently cleared) the puck…
    Unless of course you were in Irony Mode when you typed that sentence.

    I liked Joe B’s suit (look at that stitching!).
    As did I…after all, Joe B. is to Don Cherry as James Bond is to Hulk Hogan dresssed Liberace’s wardrobe…heheheh