The Capitals had no problem building up a lead against the Buffalo Sabres. Up 3-0, the Caps looked as if they were going to skate away to an easy victory. The Sabres, however, have a way of getting back into the game against the Caps and it would take a spectacular effort by rookie goaltender Michal Neuvirth to preserve the Caps' one goal lead as they down the Sabres and avenge their earlier loss by a score of 4-2.
Alex Semin continues his hot streak starting with a helper on the game's first goal. He drew the penalty to give the Caps a 5 on 3 then found Nick Backstrom on the far post and slipped him a pass to get the Caps off to a good start. Semin would also add a empty netter to seal the victory. David Steckel and Matt Bradley also scored for the Caps.
Good For The Grinders
The Capitals fourth line is not assembled for scoring prowess. But lately the line of Jason Chimera, Steckel and Bradley have been getting chances and adding the all important secondary scoring the Caps desperately need.
Chimera, although taking a third period penalty that nearly cost his team, played his best game as a Capital even though he didn't score. Using his superb speed, Chimera was able to pounce on loose pucks and found teammates Bradley and Steckel in front of the net. The Grinders combined for 5 points out of the Caps total of ten on the night. Chimera's efforts earned him the game's number one star.
Bending But Not Breaking
It got hairy towards the end of the game when Chimera took a hooking call halfway through the third period. But the Caps defense kept the Sabres from getting the game tying goal. With the help of Neuvirth who stopped 31 shots and had a .939 average against the Sabres.
The Caps special teams again came to the rescue. While they did allow a power play goal in the second period that pulled the Buffs to within one goal, they were pretty good the rest of the night. The new aggressive style of penalty killing has benefited the Caps in such a manner that they are starting to get scoring chances in the other direction. They were able to register two shots on net short handed.
Again the Caps went after the Sabres physically. They outhit the Buffs 23 to 11. Alex Ovechkin led the Caps with 4 hits of his own, while Mike Green and Steckel had three hits of their own. A stat they could have lived with out though would be turnovers. The Caps coughed up the puck ten times compared to their opponents who only had one giveaway.
- Tomas Fleischmann, Tom Poti and DJ King were the Caps' scratches. Flash was sitting only because coach Bruce Boudreau said it was his turn to sit.
- Marcus Johansson is starting to get a handle on his face-offs. He won 10 of fifteen draws (67%). While he was not on the ice for any goals, he was not on for any goals against either.
- Alex Semin is riding a nine game point streak with his goal and assist tonight. The Caps have won eight of their last nine games, the only loss came at the hands of the very same Sabres a few nights ago in overtime. Alex Ovechkin was left off the score sheet for a second time in three games. The other game was against Buffalo.