NHL Game Summary - Buffalo at Washington|
(Friday, December 26th)
Final Score: Washington 3, Buffalo 2
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Alexander Ovechkin scored a highlight reel
goal in the third period which turned out to be the game-winner, lifting the
Washington Capitals over the Buffalo Sabres, 3-2, at the Verizon Center.
Boyd Gordon and Viktor Kozlov also scored while Jose Theodore turned back
22-of-24 shots for the Capitals, who earned their seventh victory in eight
games and lead the Southeast Division with 47 points after a 9-3-0 ledger thus
far in December.
Washington is 14-1-1 as the host this year and play five of its next six on
home ice starting with a visit from Toronto on Sunday.
Thomas Vanek notched his 25th goal of the season, one shy of Philadelphia's
Jeff Carter for the league lead, and Patrick Lalime made 31 saves in a losing
Maxim Afinogenov also scored for the Sabres, who have lost their last three
games and five of seven overall. Buffalo next returns home to host the
Islanders and then welcomes these same Capitals to close out the month.
Vanek made it a one-goal game just over six minutes into the third, one-timing
a Drew Stafford pass from across the right circle on the power play.
However, Ovechkin showed why he's the reigning league MVP after breaking out
of his own zone, tipping a pass to himself while turning around a Buffalo
defender at the blue-line, and getting a hard shot off while falling to his
stomach for a goal that sent the home crowd into a frenzy and solidified a
two-goal lead with 11:33 left in the game.
But with 1:49 remaining, a slap shot by Toni Lydman from the right point
deflected off the legs of a leaping Afinogenov to the left of Theodore and
into the net. The Sabres pulled the goaltender with 1:02 left to play but
couldn't get the equalizer.
Lalime turned aside 15 Washington shots in the first and Theodore was solid in
stopping eight shots in a scoreless first period before the Caps finally got
one by Lalime with 2:14 left in the second.
Nicklas Backstrom fed Kozlov for a slapper just outside the right circle
that snuck by on the short side.
Ovechkin appeared to make it a 2-0 game a short time later off a power-play
faceoff, but Brooks Laich was whistled for goaltender interference on the
play. Buffalo was called for a hooking minor with under a minute remaining,
giving the Caps a brief 4-on-3 that spanned the second and third.
Just after the power play expired, Gordon deflected a low wrister from Milan
Jurcina at the right point to make it a 2-0 game 1:58 into the third.
Buffalo slammed the visiting Capitals, 5-0, in the only other meeting between
these clubs on November 1...The Sabres had won three straight and seven of
eight in Washington prior to Friday...Ovechkin ranks third in the league with
23 goals...Bryan Helmer had two assists for Washington.
12/26 21:58:23 ET