Recap: Special Teams Fail Sabres in Loss to Capitals

The Sabres and Capitals got together for the third time in 15 days. Tonight’s meeting was the last time these two clubs will see each other unless they meet up in the postseason, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Capitals held down the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference heading into play tonight, thus making it a prime opportunity for the Sabres to gain ground. They’ve played well recently going 5-2-2 in their last nine games. However, they’ve failed to pick up points on teams ahead of them recently like Washington and Boston.

Buffalo entered the game struggling on the penalty kill and were ranked 29th in the league. One of the keys to the game was for them to not give the Capitals the opportunity to score with the man advantage.

First Period

The Sabres and Capitals exchanged chances in a fast-paced first period. Buffalo was successful with their forecheck and board play against the Washington defense.

Both teams had one opportunity with the man advantage, but neither were able to put one past the opposing goaltender. Washington ended the period with an 11 to eight shot advantage.

Second Period

The Capitals took over the second period and dominated the majority of the play. TJ Oshie kicked off the scoring with his ninth of the season. He received a great pass from the corner from Jay Beagle and beat Robin Lehner alone in front.

Washington increased their lead later in the period on Jakub Vrana’s first NHL goal on the power play. Ryan O’Reilly failed to tie up Vrana in front and he deposited a pass from Kuznetsov past Lehner.

The defensive breakdowns by the Sabres were egregious in the second period. If not for the help of the goal post and good saves by Lehner the club could have found themselves down by three or four goals after two periods.

Third Period

Buffalo had plenty of opportunities to get back into the game in the third. Washington afforded them three straight power plays in the final period. Kyle Okposo finally converted late in the period with the man advantage to draw them within one.

A little over two minutes later the Buffalo penalty kill failed to do their job again. John Carlson unleashed a rocket from the point to beat Lehner high glove side with under six minutes remaining in the third. Marcus Johansson would add an empty netter to complete the season sweep of the Sabres.

Special teams let the Sabres down again tonight. They were one for five with the man advantage and allowed two goals to Washington with the man advantage. They entered the game with the 29th ranked penalty kill unit in the league and continued the poor performance tonight.

Philipp Grubauer picked up his second win over the Sabres making 27 saves on 28 shots. Buffalo was unable to capitalize on the opportunities they did have which helped Grubauer settle into a nice groove. Eichel had an opportunity on the doorstep and Reinhart had a few chances alone in front but was unable to finish. Frustrating loss for the Sabres in missing another opportunity to gain ground on a team they’re chasing.


Scoring Summary




WSH- TJ Oshie (9) assisted by Jay Beagle and Nicklas Backstrom

WSH- Jakub Vrana PPG (1) assisted by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov


BUF- Kyle Okposo (9) assisted by Rasmus Ristolainen and Ryan O’Reilly

WSH- John Carlson PPG (1) assisted by Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson

WSH- Marcus Johansson ENG (12) assisted by TJ Oshie and Dmitry Orlov

THW Three Stars

First: TJ Oshie (1 goal and 1 assist)

Second: Marcus Johansson (1 goal and 1 assist)

Third: Philipp Grubauer (27 saves and 1 GA)

Next Game

 Los Angeles Kings at Buffalo Sabres

KeyBank Center – 7 p.m. EST (Tuesday 12/13)

Broadcast channels – MSG-B

2016-17 Season Series: November 25 – First matchup