Capitals 4, Sabres 2
Scoresheet - Wash Post
If I told you that Alex Ovechkin didn't make the scoresheet, the Capitals were outshot 2 of 3 periods and the Caps were playing Buffalo in their barn, you might have marked down their last game as a loss. Buffalo always seemed to be the team that has frustrated the Caps for the past couple of years. But last night was different and the Capitals actually enjoyed their experience in HSBC Arena by beating the Sabres 4-2.
Brooks Laich stays hot getting the Caps on the board early with a power play tally. Chris Bourque finally gets his first NHL goal in nine career games with the Capitals. Nick Backstrom gets the eventual game winner and Boyd Gordon sealed the deal on an empty netter.
Jose Theodore would be the first to admit that playing Buffalo hasn't been fun for him through out his career. He has only won twice in his nine career games at HSBC. He turned away 31 shots. For the first time the Capitals were frustrating the Sabres. Theo played a big part in that keeping the Sabres off the scoreboard through two periods.
Ever since Bruce Boudreau put an "A" on Nick Backstrom's chest, the playmaker has elevated his game. He had a goal and an assist and seemed to have a hand in every Capital scoring chance. He has a four game point streak going where he has a goal and 7 assists.
The Capitals did a good job of frustrating the Sabres as the Buffalo squad looked very uncomfortable playing on their rink. They took a couple of bad penalties early (a problem the Caps have had when they have played Buffalo the last few years) and just could never recovered. It was the first time the Sabres seemed content to slow down the action when they were trailing by a couple of goals. Usually when the Caps and Sabres play an open back and forth game, the Sabres usually get the upper hand.
In the third period when the Sabres cut into the Caps 3-0 lead, the pace was furious. Players were going all out, it almost looked as if it were a playoff game. But the Caps held their ground and JT60 came up with the solid saves to keep them in front for good. A late power play by the Sabres on a 6 on 4 didn't damper the Caps mood about the win. But they want more, eying first place in the Eastern Conference.
"We're focused on just trying to win every game," Backstrom told reporters after the game. "We know we're up there, so if we keep hunting them it's going to be fun."
The Caps end the year on a very good note. The Caps finish 2008 winning 11 of their last 14. The Caps improve their road record to 9-10-2. They have also opened a 12 point lead over their division. Caps start 2009 right off the bat on New Year Day against the divisional foe Tampa Bay Lightning.