Takeaways: Capitals Pull Off Huge Comeback, Steal Must-Win Game vs. Sabres
The Washington Capitals overcame injury scares and rallied to pull off a huge 5-4 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Here are all the takeaways.
WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals were 1:08 minutes away from leaving Capital One Arena empty-handed in a must-win game against the Buffalo Sabres, as they fell into the same narrative that they had been this season with bad starts setting the stage for losses. Then, Tom Wilson scored with the net empty to cap off a furious rally in regulation and force overtime and guarantee a point. Then, the comeback was complete in the shootout.
T.J. Oshie and Dylan Strome had multi-point outings while Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin and Wilson also struck to force OT. Then, Kuznetsov and Oshie came in clutch in the shootout, while Charlie Lindgren stunned for a 5-4 shootout win.
Here are all the takeaways from the victory:
Washington Capitals Make Big Comeback After Bad Start
The Capitals didn't come to the rink ready to play, as the Sabres struck less than five minutes in. It marked the third straight game that they surrendered the game's first goal in the first 5:18 minutes of action.
Poor coverage from the Rasmus Sandin-Trevor van Riemsdyk pairing led to three goals on six shots for Buffalo in the opening frame, as Ilya Lyubushkin, JJ Peterka and Tyson Jost scored.
Oshie's power-play goal gave Washington some life and made sure the team was only down by two going into the second, but it wasn't an ideal start by any means with D.C. outshooting the Sabres 9-6 and failing to generate much in the first 20.
Pucks to the net would be the key, as the Capitals would push hard in the final 40 and turned up the pressure big time in the third, as Kuznetsov got his team on the board again early in the frame. However, after that and dominating in shots to open the third, Zemgus Girgensons struck after being left alone in front and firing a quick shot past Lindgren.
That didn't stop the rally, though, as Ovechkin scored his 37th goal of the season on a tip in front to pull his team within one in the final minutes of regulation. Then, with 1:08 to go in regulation, Wilson tied it on the power play off a nice feed from Nicklas Backstrom.
Ultimately, outshooting the Sabres 19-9 in the final frame was enough to force extra time, leading to the SO win.
Washington Capitals Overcome Big Injury Scares As Lines Tweak, Anthony Mantha Benched
Not only was it a rough night, but Washington also saw quite a few injury scares.
Oshie went to the locker room for a short amount of time in the second, and then at the end of the period, Sandin went down in visible pain after blocking a shot with the outside of the left knee. He was barely putting weight on his left leg as he was helped off the ice, and he did not return for the start of the third. However, he came back less than five minutes into the frame. Then, in the third, Tom Wilson was limping after blocking a shot, but he did not exit.
Also, head coach Peter Laviolette tweaked the lines, putting Ovechkin, Dylan Strome and Conor Sheary back together. Evgeny Kuznetsov then operated with T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson, and Nicklas Backstrom then went to work with Craig Smith and an alternation between Ovechkin and Sheary while the Protas-Dowd-NAK line stayed the same.
Anthony Mantha did not play at all after being on the ice for Girgensons' goal in the third. He was on the bench.
Additional Ice Chips
– Dylan Strome picked up two assists and is now on a six-game point streak, and he also hit the 50-point mark.
– Trevor van Riemsdyk is now on a four-game point streak after assisting on Ovechkin's 817th career goal.
– T.J. Oshie has points in three straight and nine of his last 10 overall.
– There was no update on Nick Jensen, who left in the third period.