Thursday, September 17, 2009

Caps Win First Preseason Game

Preseason: Capitals 4, Sabres 3 OT

In a game when the Caps seemed to look a bit shaky for their first preseason game, Semyon Varlamov was anything but. Varly stopped all 17 shots in the first two periods and held on in the third to help his team beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 in overtime. Brian Pothier scored the game winning goal on a 5 on 3 power play carry over from the third period to give the Caps the win.

The Capitals didn't quite get the start they wanted in HSBC Arena at the start of the first period. They were badly outworked and out hustled. The Sabres offense seemed to be in fine form as the Caps struggled. Well all but one, Varly. Varlamov came up with save after save against the Sabres who were trying to score on the young goaltender by finding the open man across the ice. But each time Varly had an answer robbing Jason Pominville a couple of times with his athletic splits to cover the once open net.

With the Caps' goaltender keeping them in the game, the Caps seemed to get a good start as Alex Giroux scored the opening goal in the first period. He scored on a feed from Brendan Morrison and it gave the Capitals the early 1-0 lead. Thanks to Varlamov's heroics that scored held until the third period. Then the Sabres finally started getting the shots to go in.

The Sabres scored 2 goals jumping up to a 2-1 lead on goals by Pominville and Clarke MacArther. Mike Knuble tied things up with a goal right in front of the net. The Sabres answered with a goal of their own again going up by a goal. Just 23 seconds after the Buffalo goal, Jay Beagle tied the game.

Buffalo took a couple of bad penalties late, one was a delay of game foul called on goaltender Jhonas Enroth. The other was a check from behind by Mike Weber that had B. Mor injured on the ice for a spell. The Caps carried over the 5 on 3 power play into the overtime period where Pothier beat Enroth with a point slapper and wins the game for the Caps.

The standouts tonight for those gunning for jobs were Karl Alzner, Chris Bourque and Jay Beagle. Alzner cool, calm demeanor seemed to help the Caps get out of sticky situations. Bourque seemed to be Bruce Boudreau's safety blanket for this game. When his line was out there it seemed to even things out a bit. Beagle had 4 shots on net (second only to Nick Backstrom who had 5 shots) and scored the game tying goal just 23 seconds after the Sabres scored their go ahead goal late in the third.

Anton Gustafsson had his moments, both bad and good. The good was he did get his nose dirty in front of the net and that lead to some scoring chances and his two registered shots on net. The bad was when he broke his stick and went to the bench to get a replacement which gave the Sabres a scoring opportunity.

Joe Finley didn't really stand out at all, but he didn't make any glaring mistakes either. He registered two blocked shots and gave the Caps some good size up front.

The Caps come back to DC to get a few practices on Friday before heading to Chicago to play their second preseason game against the Blackhawks Saturday night.

Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images

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