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Takeaways: Fehervary, Oshie Clutch As Capitals Edge Sabres In Shootout

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Capitals forward T.J. Oshie

The Washington Capitals were eager to move on from their slow 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday and start anew against the Buffalo Sabres. They knew the mission, and a strong start, a solid third-period comeback and performances from the likes of T.J. Oshie, Martin Fehervary and more led to a key 3-2 shootout win for Washington over Buffalo.

With the win, the Capitals reclaimed the Metro Division lead from the New York Rangers and now sit in first with 40 points. They are also tied with the Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs for first overall in the NHL.

Here are all the takeaways from the victory:

Eller, Sheary Get Capitals Off To Quick Start

The Capitals didn’t get off to the start that they wanted to on Friday, and they changed that in a flash on Saturday. Conor Sheary, in his 400th career NHL game, was one of Washington’s best skaters. He started off the night with a great saucer cross-ice pass to Eller for his fourth goal of the season. Eller is the second-highest Danish-born scorer in NHL history.

Eller now has goals in back-to-back games and is riding a three-game point streak. Despite a tough night in the face-off dot, where he won just five of 22 draws (23 FO%), he had three shots and played a strong overall game.

Sheary, meanwhile, continues to impress. He has four points in his last five games and has assists in back-to-back games. He was going hard after the puck, battling, skating well and making great plays that led to quite a couple of quality scoring chances.

Fehervary Puts On A Show After High Hit, Game-Time Decision

There were questions regarding Fehervary’s availability for Saturday’s date with the Sabres. A high hit from Brock McGinn in Friday’s showdown left Fehervary injured, and he left the ice and did not return. However, after taking warm-ups on Saturday, he felt good enough to suit up for Washington against Buffalo and made the most of his comeback.

The blueliner was outstanding, a physical presence and strong at both ends of the ice. Through 19:45 minutes, he led all Washington skaters with a whopping seven hits, and more importantly, his third goal of the season in the final frame evened the score to force overtime.

Fehervary is now tied with Moritz Seider for second in goals by rookie defensemen (3), just one behind Bowen Byram. He also shares the rookie lead in hits (79) with Tanner Jeannot and ranks second in blocks (43).

Kuznetsov, Ovechkin Stay Hot

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin were dangerous, generating several chances. Both picked up helpers on Fehervary’s goal, only adding to their already All-Star worthy campaigns.

Kuznetsov is now up to nine goals and 21 assists for 30 points on the season, good for 10th league-wide in scoring. He had just 29 points all of last year. The Russian also has points in back-to-back games and points in three of his last five games overall.

Ovechkin, meanwhile, extended his point streak to five games. He is up to 20 goals and 44 points through 28 games and sits just one point behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for the NHL lead in scoring. The Capitals captain is also on pace for a career-high 70 assists this season. Just one player in NHL history has recorded at least 70 assists in a season over the age of 36: Wayne Gretzky.

Vanecek Looks Strong In Return To Capitals Crease

In his first game since a shootout loss to Chicago on Dec. 2, Vitek Vanecek came up huge for the Capitals against Buffalo, shutting down the Sabres’ speedy arsenal on several occasions and a few odd-man breaks. He stopped 29 of 31 shots (.935 save percentage). He now owns a 5-3-5 record with a .908 save percentage and 2.51 GAA, and also took home his first victory past regulation this season.

Sammi’s Top-Shelf Takes

  • Oshie came in clutch with the shootout winner and also picked up his fifth assist of the season. He now has points in four of his last six games and now has four goals and nine points through 12 games this year.

  • Ovechkin led the Capitals in shots with six, while Kuznetsov and Carl Hagelin were tied for second with five apiece.
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