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Capitals Takeaways

Takeaways: Capitals Rally After Forgettable Start, Earn Point vs. Sabres

Alex Ovechkin and Sonny Milano helped turn things around after a slow start, but costly penalties led to a 5-4 overtime loss.



WASHINGTON — To open the new year, the Washington Capitals weren't the sharpest and, despite T.J. Oshie's return, lacked some energy against the young and fast Buffalo Sabres. However, an Alex Ovechkin goal would be a turning point and make it a whole new hockey game in the District.

Ovechkin and Sonny Milano put on a show as the Capitals rallied from a 3-1 deficit to force OT, but Tage Thompson's hat trick led to a 5-4 loss.

The Capitals have earned a point in seven straight but fell to the first Wild Card spot in the Metropolitan Division.

Here are all the takeaways from the defeat.

Alex Ovechkin Gives Washington Capitals Life, Washington Capitals Find Rhythm After Line Tweaks

Washington has been benefitting from 5-on-5 scoring of late from across the board, but the team had some struggles against Uuko-Pekka Luukkonen and the Sabres. There were elooks that were there, but at times, the team tried to do too much or make one too many passes, and at other times, 

The looks were there for Washington, but they didn't click as the team passed on Grade-A opportunities and at times, either tried to do too much and make one too many passes, pass up on shots or elect not to pass with a clear lane available. With the offense struggling, head coach Peter Laviolette jumbled the lines quite a bit. There was an Ovechkin-Kuznetsov, Milano line at one point, while Milano also got time with Nic Dowd and Oshie. Garnet Hathaway also went to work with Marcus Johansson and Dylan Strome.

A lot of different combinations went to work with Milano having scored the game's only goal on a breakaway in the first, and in the second, the Capitals were able to get more pucks on net.

Finally, Alex Ovechkin got things going, as he ripped home a shot off a clean face-off win from Evgeny Kuznetsov, who now has points in six straight games.

The Milano-Dowd-Oshie line then struck in the third period to tie it and make it a whole new hockey game, as Dowd scored his 10th of the season and second goal in as many games off the rebound from a Milano shot.

Ovechkin wasn't done, though. Off a nice feed from Conor Sheary, who extended his point streak to five games, Ovechkin rocketed home career goal No. 808 to put D.C. in front, leading to the eventual OT.

The 37-year-old scored in three straight games and four of his last five overall, with eight goals over that span. He also led the team with five shots.

Washington Capitals Turn Things Around After Slow Start

The Sabres came into Tuesday's game with heavy hearts, as the city of Buffalo has Bills safety Damar Hamlin in their thoughts and prayers after he suffered cardiac arrest on Monday. Taking that into account, the Sabres showed up and played a hard game as they rallied around Hamlin, and that led to a dominant effort against Washington.

The Capitals weren't the sharpest in front of Darcy Kuemper, and allowed  Thompson and company to do quite a bit of damage. There were holes in the coverage in front, and Kuemper had a difficult time shutting down the dangerous top trio and the team that leads the league in goals for per game. 

Thompson had two goals and an assist, but Ovechkin and company saw a turning point and ultimately turned up the volume at the end of the second and third to score three unanswered goals and finally get back in it. Buffalo would tie it after a fully in front led to a Tyson Jost goal through traffic to make it 4-4 and ultimately force overtime.

Capitals Overcome Costly Penalties, But Fall In OT

With exactly two minutes left in regulation and things tied 4-4, Kuznetsov took a costly tripping penalty in the offensive zone, allowing the dangerous Sabres to go on the man advantage once again.

The Capitals PK, after allowing a PPG to Thompson early on, was going well until Lars Eller took a tripping call with 16.2 seconds remaining. However, the PK again stepped up and shut things down. Howeever, Thompson completed the hat trick for the win after Washington made a mistake with the puck.

Additional Washington Capitals Ice Chips

– Ovechkin has now scored in each game that the team has worn the Reverse Retro jerseys, with 10 goals combined in six games wearing the sweater. Luukkonen is also the 167th different goaltender he has scored on.

– Matt Irwin led the team with six hits on the night.

– Sheary has 16 points in his last 16 games and has eight points in his last five games overall.