The Washington Capitals showed that if they want to win, they can win big with an impressive 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres Friday. With Washington maintaining a secure lead over Buffalo for a majority fo the game, they never let their guard down, which helped them escape with the victory.
Again, the Capitals tied Philadephia for third in the Metropolitan Division, and jumped up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Not to mention, they are two points away from the Division lead, and four points away from first in the Eastern Conference and the NHL.
The first frame of action was rather slow, with both teams unable to muster a lot of opportunities. Though each team had a power-play at some point in the first, they couldn’t make the most of the man advantage, and it remained scoreless where it really mattered. After the first 20 minutes, Washington led in shots, 11-8.
About six minutes through the second period, the Capitals finally got the puck past Robin Lehner. After Nicklas Backstrom got the puck to Jay Beagle in the corner, he made a nifty backhand pass to a wide-open T.J. Oshie in front of the net. In all alone, Oshie made the most of his time with the puck and fired it past Lehner to give Washington a 1-0 lead.
About six minutes later, the Capitals were on the power play and had just 14 seconds remaining on the man advantage when Evgeny Kuznetsov came flying into the offensive zone with a head full of steam for the final rush. He fed the puck across the crease and Jakub Vrana, who had planted his body in front, tapped the puck in for his first NHL goal giving Washington a nice two-goal lead going into the third period.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 10, 2016
The Capitals made simple mistakes to start the final 20 minutes of regulation, and one of them involved too much time in the penalty box. Daniel Winnik took a penalty late in the second, but after that, Washington took three straight penalties in the third, which led to multiple power-play opportunities for Buffalo over the course of around 11 minutes. Eventually, Kyle Okposo brought Buffalo within one about 12 minutes into the third period.
Washington would further complicate the Sabres’ comeback efforts about two minutes later on their own power play chance. After Nicklas Backstrom lost the handle on a bouncing puck, John Carlson blasted it past Lehner for his first goal of the season. His goal also made the Capitals 2-for-3 on the man advantage Friday.
Marcus Johansson put the final nail in the coffin in the remaining two minutes of the third, when he scored on an empty net. The Swedish forward finished with a goal and assist in Friday’s victory and is now riding a four-game point streak.
WSH- T.J. Oshie (9) assisted by Jay Beagle and Nicklas Backstrom
WSH- Jakub Vrana (1) assisted by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov
BUF- Kyle Okposo (9) assisted by Rasmus Ristolainen and Ryan O’Reilly
WSH- John Carlson (1) assisted by Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson
WSH- Marcus Johansson (12) assisted by T.J. Oshie and Dmitry Orlov
THW Three Stars
First: T.J. Oshie (goal, assist)
Second: Jakub Vrana (first NHL goal)
Third: Philipp Grubauer (27 saves)
Vancouver Canucks at Washington Capitals
Verizon Center- 5 p.m. EST on December 11
Broadcast Channels: CSNMA
2016-17 Season Series: Oct. 25- Capitals 5 Canucks 2
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.