Sudden thoughts and second thoughts as the Capitals turn the page on Tuesday night’s 5-4 overtime victory against the Sabres in Buffalo and turn their attention to Thursday night’s visit to Columbus:
High hits: Some would say Sabres defenseman Mike Weber plays the hard-edged game the Caps could use on their blue line. Others would say Weber crossed that line between physicality and respect Tuesday night when he dropped Caps forwards Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom with a pair of hits to the head. “Make your own judgment if it belongs in this league or not,” Backstrom told the Washington Post after the game. A league spokesman said Wednesday morning that there was no hearing scheduled for either incident "at the moment."
Strong night for Erat: Marty Erat has had some rough nights this month but he was outstanding in Tuesday night’s win in Buffalo. Playing left wing on a second line with Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer, he drew a tripping minor at the start of the game, set up Brouwer’s power-play goal in the second period, and forced a turnover at the blue line that led to Mike Green’s game-winner in overtime. Erat finished the night with two assists and a plus-2 rating in 17:22 of work. Erat is now averaging 14:12 a game but remains the only regular on the team without a goal.
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Holtby a winner: He’ll be the first to tell you it wasn’t pretty, but Braden Holtby stopped 23 of 27 shots to pick up his second straight win and improve to 15-12-2. “It's one that's not pretty, not like Montreal [a 5-0 win Saturday] night,” Holtby told reporters. “But they count the same and on nights like tonight we need huge performances like we got from [Mike Green]."
Green life: Mike Green has played two of his best games of the season this week. In 21:16 of work Saturday night against the Canadiens he picked up one assist and was a plus-2. And in Buffalo he scored goals No. 100 and 101, while assisting on one of Alex Ovechkin’s two goals, finishing the night a plus-3, matching the season high he set in Philadelphia on Nov. 1. Asked what it meant to crack the 100-goal mark, Green told reporters, "A lot, to be honest. It's been lingering around a while now. It feels good to get that one. I kept the puck."
Still in the cold: With the overtime win the Caps crept within one point of the Carolina Hurricanes, who hold the final wild card playoff spot, and within two points of the Philadelphia Flyers, who own the third seed in the Metro. A win over the Blue Jackets on Thursday could put them back in a playoff spot.
Sabre selloff: Tuesday marked the third and final meeting between the Caps and Sabres. The Sabres may look entirely different when they meet again. New general manager Tom Murray has promised a rebuild and the Sabres have 10 players on their roster who will be unrestricted free agents after this season. That list includes forwards Matt Moulson, Steve Ott, Cody McCormick, Zenon Konopka, John Scott, Linus Omark and Matt D’Agostini, defensemen Henrik Tallinder and Alexander Sulzer and goaltender Ryan Miller.