Takeaways: Capitals Fall Apart vs. Sabres, Frustration Continues
The Washington Capitals couldn’t tighten things up and fell apart defensively in a 7-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Here are all the takeaways.
After the Buffalo Sabres scored their third goal in a span of 4:18 minutes in the second period, Darcy Kuemper grabbed his stick and smashed it against the goal post, breaking it in half before throwing the parts onto the ice, skating to the bench and throwing his helmet off on his way down the tunnel. HIs frustration spoke volumes as he was pulled in a disastrous game for the Washington Capitals.
On Saturday, the Capitals did everything right against the New York Rangers, dominating, playing the right way and ultimately, snapping a six-game losing skid with a convincing victory. It was something to build off of going into a must-win matchup on Sunday with the Buffalo Sabres, but instead of trending upward, things fell apart. The defense fell apart and the Capitals couldn't shut down the high-flying Sabres, who rolled past Washington with a 7-4 win to keep a hold of the second Wild Card spot.
Here are all the takeaways from the loss, which marks the Capitals' sixth defeat in the last seven games and puts the Capitals even further back in the race.
Washington Capitals Play Too Loose, Defense Struggles As Buffalo Sabres Dominate
From the get-go, the defense wasn't tight or on its game against the high-flying Sabres. Washington was playing run-and-gun hockey and failed to pay attention to details, leading to turnovers, odd man rushes and easy high-quality opportunities for Buffalo, who saw its young, talented offense capitalize. There wasn't much defense, and the puck wasn't taken care of.
Dylan Cozens had a hat trick, while Tage Thompson picked up his 40th goal of the season in the win. Washington didn't play with enough speed or awareness, as the team allowed the Sabres' stars to get to those high-danger areas, leading to struggles for both Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren, who were left to dry.
Kuemper, who got the start on consecutive days for the first time of the season after a stellar showing on Saturday, surrendered three goals in a span of 4:18 minutes in the second. He was pulled for Lindgren, who was also left to dry on two more goals to make it a 7-spot.
Kuemper finished with 14 saves on 19 shots, while Lindgren stopped 17 of 19. They did what they could in a fast-and-loose game where the Capitals didn't look too interested in tightening things up in their own end.
Alex Ovechkin Nets First Goal Since Father's Passing, Stars Try To Spark Team
With his team trailing 6-2 in the second, Oveechkin got to the front and buried his 33rd of the season to pull his team within three, and his excitement appeared to spark his team and give the Capitals some life. It marked his first goal in six games and first since his father, Mikhail, died. He looked up to the sky after celebrating.
T.J. Oshie also kept things going, extending his goal scoring streak to three games and also picking up an assist. Dylan Strome had a goal and assist as well, and Sonny Milano picked up his second goal in as may games. Erik Gustafsson also extended his assist streak to four games.
Overall, the stars helped provide offense where they could, but it wasn't enough in a game where defense was thrown out the window.