WASHINGTON, D.C. — It is the preseason after all for the Washington Capitals.
The Buffalo Sabres came out ahead in a shootout during Sunday’s preseason opener, emerging with a 4-3 victory.
The Capitals benefitted early on from the performance of Hunter Shepard, who started in net for the Capitals. Three months after collecting playoff MVP honors in the AHL, he stopped each of the 12 shots he saw, giving the Capitals the space needed to go ahead early. Capitals winger Nicolas Aube-Kubel was able to find the net first, pushing one past Sabres goalie Eric Comrie with five minutes to go in the first period.
The Capitals carried their slim lead into the second period, where Ryan Hofer added an insurance score. But Washington’s two-goal buffer was short lived as Sabres forward J.J. Peterka collected a blocked shot and pushed it past Clay Stevenson, who relieved Shepard midway through the period.
It didn’t take long in the third for the Sabres to tie it up after Peyton Krebs deflected a shot past Stevenson to tie the score. Sabres first-rounder Zach Benson pushed the team ahead with a goal of his own a few minutes later, but the team’s lead was short-lived after a Sonny Milano goal knotted the score at 3-3.
Ultimately, the Sabres had luck on their side, securing the win.
INJURY WOES EARLY FOR CAPITALS?
Trevor van Riemsdyk left the game in the third period after being hit on his right arm. Van Riemsdyk’s partner Alex Alexeyev skated shifts with Martin Fehervary and Vincent Iorio in the game’s final minutes.
In the game’s early minutes, the Capitals struggled mightily to get out of their own way. The group tallied three penalties in the first period alone, finishing with five.
SHOTS FALLING SHORT
After finishing as the runner-up to the AHL’s leader in goals scored a season ago, Matthew Phillips was unable to find the net in his first action with the Capitals. Phillips, who signed a one-way deal in the offseason, finished with four shots.