On a rare Sunday night at Verizon Center, Capitals fans were primed for a St. Patrick’s Day party on ice. After a setback Saturday in Boston, the home team concluded its busy weekend with a hard-fought 5-3 win over a pesky squad from Buffalo.
Six different Caps had multi-point games against the Sabres. That was a very positive sign for a team that had struck for only seven goals in its last five games.
As a team, the guys were very pleased with the way they pressured the Sabres in Buffalo’s defensive zone. Puck-pressure is synonymous with fore-checking and if the Caps are “on the puck” then turnovers and scoring chances will occur.
The Capitals were on the scoreboard very quickly. Nicklas Backstrom won a faceoff in the direction of Alex Ovechkin. Marcus Johansson touched the puck while running some interference for the captain. From there an Ovechkin snap-shot sizzled through a screen and past Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller only 19 seconds into the contest.
After the remainder of the first-period scoring was dormant, both teams awakened in the middle stanza.
Cody Hodgson put Buffalo into a tie after only 12 seconds had elapsed in period two. His wrister went through Steve Oleksy and under goalie Braden Holtby for the equalizer.
Washington then went on a three-goal spree. Troy Brouwer potted a power-play goal at 5:06 of the period that was the end-result of beautiful puck-movement from Mike Ribeiro and Backstrom.
Jason Chimera would click for his first goal of the year at 9:45. Brouwer made a sharp backhand pass from behind the net to the speedy winger who was streaking through the slot. Jason threw his head skyward after the puck went past Miller, a sure sign of relief.
It was only 43 second after that when Marcus Johansson would build the Caps lead to three goals. With bodies scrambling all around the fallen Sabre goalie, Johansson managed to squeak a shot from close range though the skates of Sabre defender Christian Ehrhoff who was attempting to cover-up for his keeper.
The 4-1 lead did not turn out to be a walk in the park for the Capitals. Buffalo would get one back before the second period was complete, as rookie winger Brian Flynn pounced on a loose carom to beat Holtby.
As the teams were preparing to start the third period we noticed a change in the lighting at Verizon Center. It appeared as if the building suffered a power-surge which knocked out a bank of lights. After a delay of approximately seven minutes, the officials decided the light was sufficient to resume play.
As the lighting was returning to full brilliance, Hodgson would score his second of the game at 5:30 of the third. He cashed in off a rebound with the Sabres on the power play. Buffalo’s man-advantage unit came into the game ranked dead last in the league, but they provided at a critical juncture.
Sabres feisty center-iceman and part-time pest Steve Ott was doing his best to stir it up throughout the night. He was involved in a running feud with Backstrom for most of the evening.
At the 12:48 mark of the third period he duped Steve Oleksy into dropping his gloves for a fight with which Ott had no interest in partaking. Oleksy received two minutes for roughing, and the Caps had an important penalty-kill in a one-goal game and passed the test.
Holtby made a dazzling glove save off Drew Stafford to preserve the lead. His sure-handedness set the stage for Washington to get the clinching goal.
Mathieu Perreault had a very effective night one day removed from being scratched in Boston. The slick center brought the puck into the offensive zone, made a strong lateral move, and while center-lane traffic was building up in front of Miller, deposited a snap shot that beat the goalie on his blocker side.
The Caps closed the door over the remaining 4:55 of the third to end their two-game home-ice losing skid.
They won’t see Verizon Center ice until the 26th of March. A long road swing begins in Pittsburgh Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., a game we hope you will enjoy on Comcast SportsNet.