Capitals 3, Sabres 2
Scoresheet - Wash Post
The game was cluttered with defensive play in the first two periods, but when the Capitals went up 2-0, Buffalo and Washington went all out and played to an exciting 3-2 finish. The Caps keep their winning ways at home as they work on another winning game streak and avenging a 5-0 loss to the same Buffalo Sabres nearly a month ago.
Alex Ovechkin scored another highlight reel goal after some how picking the puck out of the defenders stick and skates beat Patrick Lalime five hole for the game winner. Boyd Gordon tipped in a goal (he was due for one) and Viktor Kozlov seems to have found his scoring touch getting his fourth goal in as many games.
Ovi had a goal taken away after Brooks Laich interfered with the Sabres' goaltender. After that he seemed driven not just to score, but to out-hustle the entire Sabre team. Ovechkin is still ahead of his pace a season ago.
The more I watch Sean Collins, the more I am impressed with him. He does the simplest play to defuse the Sabre attack. It is not flashy, it is not a big hit. Just a poke check, or a well timed stick check or reading the play to cut off the pass, Collins was a rock the Caps leaned on in the final minutes of the game. Bruce Boudreau put a lot of trust in his play by leaving him out there as the Sabres pressed and it was a simple poke check that deterred the Sabres from getting the puck in the front of the net.
Bryan Helmer also had a great game. The veteran assisted on the game winner by Ovechkin (2 assists in all). He also broke up a few plays and earned the game's first star. The three star selection was an odd one with Helmer with the number one star, Donald Brashear with the game's number two star and Ovi with the third star.
Jose Theodore played better than the two goals he had no chance on saving. He played compact and swallowed alot of pucks not allowing rebounds. The Sabres' power play goal was breakdown in defense when Gordon thought the puck was played with a hand pass. The second goal went off of Maxim Afinogenov's legs and bounced pass Theo. Besides those two goals JT60 was solid in net. When Tyler Sloan was fooled on a deke, Theodore cleaned up the mess with a great glove save.
Ever since Boudreau gave Nick Backstrom the "A" on his chest, Backstrom has been showing some more hustle and great leadership by doing rather than saying. Chris Clark's return was a welcomed sight, the Caps just look more whole with their captain back. Kozlov played one of his most physical games I have seen him play this year and was a pest on the forecheck leading to some great scoring chances.
Caps go back at it Sunday night, Mike Gartner night. Toronto is in town and they will be coming off of a disappointing loss against the Islanders. Then the Caps are in Buffalo for a game, then start their new year with a four game home stand.
Highlights by NHL.com: