When the Washington Capitals play the Buffalo Sabres tonight, they’ll be playing one of the worst teams in memory. You could say the Sabres are the Caps’ “weakest competition yet,” but you’d be doing so at your own peril. First, you should verify your translation, and second, the Sabres have won their last two games.
If the Caps fall into another lull, the Sabres, now cured of snowbound cabin fever, will attack. Instead, the ideal outcome would be the Caps helping Buffalo on their quest for McEichel with a clean, blowout, rego win. 7 PM on CSN. Game on.
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It is with heavy heart that we regret to inform you the PuckBuddys will be going dark for a week or two. Should anyone find themselves in need of a quick dose of fabulousness, we suggest watching this super-cut of Michael Kors being arch and catty on Project Runway.
However, we did have time to eke out one more pregamer with a blogger from the opposing city. This week’s game: the Buffalo Sabres.
If it seems like Buffalo– the city and the team– have been cursed by the Frost Giants lately, you wouldn’t be far off the mark. The city and its eastern suburbs are reeling under more snow in a couple days than they usually get in a year, and let it be known they get an f-ton of snow every year. Worse for Sabres fans, their squad just has been iced out offensively so far this season, with a few notable exceptions, and despite some great forward talent and rebuilding, they’re just not that good this year. Buffalo: Washington understands your pain.
For more insight into the Sad Sabres Fans Being Sad, we spoke with Andrew Boron, managing editor and snow-shoveler extraordinaire at the superb Sabres blog Die By The Blade for the inside track on the team, and how today’s game may shake out.
Photo: Joel Auerbach
The trade deadline got really difficult for some Caps fans on Wednesday when long-time goalie Michal Neuvirth was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres for Jaroslav Halak. It’s understandable if some fans got attached over the years. Neuvirth won Calder Cups in AHL Hershey, honored Olie Kolzig by having an image of him painted on the side of his mask, and forever challenged our assumptions of what a smile is.
On Friday night, Neuvirth took the ice for the first time with the Buffalo Sabres. And it was super weird. Wearing his Capitals-themed mask, Capitals colored pads and gloves, and red, white, and blue stick, Neuvy made 42 saves (one off his career high) in the Sabres 2-0 loss to Roberto Luongo and the Florida Panthers.
Have I mentioned it was weird?
That dude in the middle. (Photo: Bill Wippert)
Are the Capitals worse than the Buffalo Sabres? The Sabres might be the worst team the league has seen in a decade, and yet they’ve bested DC twice this season. This third and final game was a towel match. If Buffalo won, they would sweep the season series and Bob Backlund would have to retire. If the Caps won, they’d prove that their 5-0 slump-slaying win wasn’t a total fluke.
The Caps started their effort well, exploding for a pair of Ovi goals in the first period, but they couldn’t hold a lead to save their lives. They lifted the pressure and let Buffalo creep back in. So much for killer instinct. Here’s how it went down.
Alex Ovechkin did the power play thing in the first. No, not the thing where he scores from the Ovi spot. This was the other thing, the one where he scores right after the faceoff. But Ovi wasn’t done; he scored a minute later by deflecting Mike Green’s shot off his trousers. Christian Ehrhoff got Buffalo on the board as John Erskine and Ovechkin were unable to control a rebound.
The Sabres tied it up on the power play early in the second as Cory Hodgson finished off a nice passing sequence. Mike Green scored his 100th career goal with a sweet wraparound not long after. Philip Varone caught a loose puck wide of the net to record his first NHL goal and tie the game– yet another quick response goal against the Caps. No matter, as Alex Ovechkin started off a set play that Troy Brouwer aptly finished off from the crease, giving the Caps a 4-3 lead going into the third period.
Cory Hodgson drew a penalty from Jason Chimera and kept working to tie it up with 13 minutes left in regulation. The score stayed like that through sixty, so– for the third freaking time– the Caps and Sabres went to overtime.
GAME OVER GREEN!
Caps beats Sabres 5-4! (OT)
Grabo’s face (Photo: Patrick McDermott)
Those of you nursing a hangover on Sunday afternoon found yourself in good company as the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres played a sleepy game in which not much happened. The Caps should have been able to dominate the worst team in the league, but that only kind of happened. Three Caps lines and four defenders seemed to be in control of this one, but the Sabres pwned the Caps depth enough to force overtime and win it in the gimmick. Take a whiff of some coffee grounds and follow me to the scoring summary.
Jason Chimera got on the board first as his centering pass went off a Sabres defenseman who was trying to stop Marcus Johansson’s net-crash. Tyler Ennis struck back for the Sabres with a rebound goal on the power play. The second period was uneventful aside from some penalties. Late in the third, Ryan Miller robbed Mikhail Grabovski and Karl Alzner’s go-ahead goal got undone by a tripping call. Buffalo owned overtime but couldn’t put the biscuit in the basket, so here comes the shootout recap. Yey.
Shootout recap bullets!
Sabres beat Caps 2-1 (SO).
Photo: Bill Wippert
The Buffalo Sabres are having a rough season. They’re the worst team in the league and possibly one of the worst teams we’ve seen in this whole era. And yet, even a really bad team will beat a goalie sometimes. That’s exactly what happened on Sunday as the Sabres eked out a lead in the second period despite getting outpossessed like cray cray. No worries though, the Caps stole the game back and forced overtime. But then there was still the small matter of Ryan Miller.
After 39 scoreless minutes Drew Stafford tipped in Christian Ehrhoff’s shot while John Erskine checked his fantasy football scores or something. Troy Brouwer finally cracked Ryan Miller after 32 saved shots with a streaking snapper in the third. It stood like that through regulation and overtime.
Sabres beat Caps 2-1 (Shootout)!
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)
[Ed. note: Craig Brownstein, PuckBuddy and resident film scholar, provides this look at our dance with the Buffalo Slugs, as imagined through the lens of Ingmar Bergman. You expected different, maybe? Read, learn, and tweet his nose here.]
Cries and Whispers: I scored last-minute tickets to the Isles game courtesy of a lovely young lady, and we sat in the #415 Lounge, just one seat from Sam Wolk, a distinct pleasure in and of itself. (My left ear has finally stopped ringing). Down by two in the early going, I met some friends on the concourse during the first intermission. Cue the hand-wringing, nay-saying, and rending of garments. Third period hopes were soon dashed, slipping between Mike Green’s skates. It was like a bad movie. Make that a depressing movie, think Cassavetes, or in honor of our stoic Swedish players, Bergman may be more appropriate.
Nineteen seconds, one goal. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)
The Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres are neck-and-neck in a battle for playoff position. The Caps are just one point behind the Sabres as the lockout shortened regular season begins to come to a close. One problem, though: the spot they’re fighting for is 13th place in the Eastern Conference.
This season has been pretty abhorrent for fans in Buffalo and Washington. The Caps, however, still have time to salvage this year. Playing in hockey’s weakest division, the Caps came into Sunday’s game nine points out the the Southeast-leading Winnipeg Jets with 21 games left to play. But if Washington want to be playing hockey in May, that drive has to start now. Maybe it did. Thirty hours after the start of their deflating but fight filled 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins, Washington showed no St. Patrick’s Day hangover (I’m sorry).
Caps beat Sabres 5-3.
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!
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