Photo credit: Bill Wippert
The Washington Capitals came out ice-cold against the Buffalo Sabres in a game they should’ve been highly motivated to win. With the playoffs still possible, the Caps let the Sabres run away with a two-goal lead before mounting their comeback. The Caps ran the cycle — with goals by Ovechkin on the power play, a shorthanded goal by Brouwer, and 6-on-5 goal by Mike Green.
Overtime couldn’t decide the game, so to the shootout we went. Ovechkin won it. Because he’s a big damn hero, sir.
Caps beat Sabres 4-3 (Shootout)
- Troy Brouwer and John Carlson lost a battle for the puck along the boards, allowing Jochen Hecht to set up Christian Ehrhoff for a wide-open shot at the game’s first goal. That wasn’t the only goal the Caps have allowed recently after losing a puck battle. That trend has gotta end.
- Ville Leino got two goals on Saturday. I didn’t even know they still made Ville Leinos. But there he is: scoring two goals on the Washington freaking Capitals.
- Leino’s second goal was scored while Jack Hillen was in the box. That was actually a good move, as the Caps got absolutely pummeled while he was on the ice. As the Caps fell into a two-goal hole, Hillen had the team’s worst possession numbers by far. He did complain about the ice during the first intermission, but I think the other players might have been playing on the same sheet.
- Alex Ovechkin continues to be Russian hockey dynamite. He’s got points in 7 straights, tonight’s being a fantastically accurate power play goal from way outside. Ovechkin had 10 shots on goal– which is rigoshdarndiculous. Ovi has been a true captain in the back half of March– something we should all keep in mind next time critics foreign and domestic start talking trash about him.
- Jason Chimera didn’t have a shot on goal in his last three games. Against Buffalo he had two! One was almost a goal, until the cosmos realized it was Jason Chimera shooting it and decreed, “Hahaha yeah right.”
- Troy Brouwer shorty! Yayyyyy! Shorties are the funnest kind of goals. They’re like when the people at Chipotle put extra guac in your ‘rito and don’t even charge you for it. Braden Holtby got the assist on that guac-laden burrito.
- Mike Green rang the post tragically in the third period. It could have been the tying goal, but the hockey fates said nay. Green was unfazed I guess, because he tried again in the game’s final minute. He hit the post again, but a friendly zephyr whispered it netward. High dramatics to tie the game and force overtime. 5 shots, 1 goal, 1 assist, 27:16 ice time. Stunning.
- Buffalo’s Jhonas Enroth was awesome. His glove save on Mike Ribeiro’s slim-angle shot in overtime was picture perfect if you like your pictures to break your hockey heart into a zillion pieces. That robbery left the game unresolved after 65 minutes, so …
- SHOOTOUT BULLET! Pominville rang post. Hendricks paralyzed Enroth. Ennis swatted by Holtby. Ovi five-holes Enroth! WIN!
The Buffalo Sabres are not a good team. They’re dead last in possession and seem to be selling off assets as of this afternoon. Yet, they played with purpose in the early goings, stealing a lead and protecting it capably.
Which is my way of saying that a team without anything to play for can still play well. If the Caps don’t make the playoffs this year, it ain’t the end of the world. They can still play good hockey until the end of April and the come back even harder in the fall.
In sizing up the Caps’ chances at a) making the playoffs, and b) actually performing well in the playoffs, I want to point to this game’s first 20 minutes, in which the Caps were utterly dominated by the aforementioned weakest puck possession team in the NHL. I’m not saying every night has to be lopsided like that, but daaaaaaaaaamn that first period sucked.
Thank goodness for the oft-maligned (including by us) Mike Green. That puck lost between his skates earlier in the week was all but forgotten when he secured a point with that 6-on-5 goal. Redemption has been granted. Let us speak no more of his shame.
And let’s all be glad that our preferred team is led by Alex Ovechkin, a guy whose favorite thing to do is shoot pucks at nets. I don’t know much about leadership, but I bet Ovechkin does. What a dude.
Catch you guys tomorrow evening at 6 PM. It’s Philadelphia, so make sure you have soap and bleach and Cipro at the ready.