NHL Game Summary - Buffalo at Washington
(Friday, April 3rd)
Final Score: Buffalo 5, Washington 4 (OT)
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Jason Pominville scored the game-winner 1:51 into overtime, helping Buffalo to a 5-4 win over Washington, which clinched the Southeast Division title for the home team despite the loss.
The Capitals entered the game with 101 points, and needed just one more to clinch the division over idle Carolina, which has 93 points and four games to play.
Washington clinched the Southeast for a second consecutive season, but lost the game after a costly turnover coming out of its own zone.
Sergei Fedorov tried a cross-ice pass from the left side to the right, but Tim Connolly intercepted the puck at the blue line. He skated a few strides into the Caps' zone before centering to an unguarded Pominville, who beat Washington goaltender Simeon Varlamov five-hole to end the game.
The win helped the Sabres stay in the playoff race, as they have 85 points and moved to four behind the idle eighth-place New York Rangers.
"Every goal at this point of the year is big. We're battling for our lives, we find ways to win games, but at this point in the season we needed this win," Pominville said. "We found a way; I'll take it, definitely."
Derek Roy, Drew Stafford, Clarke MacArthur and Maxim Afinogenov all scored once for Buffalo, which rebounded from an overtime loss to Atlanta on Wednesday to win for the fourth time in five games. Connolly finished with three assists, and Ryan Miller made 33 saves in the win.
Alex Ovechkin had a goal and two assists for the Capitals, who had a two-game win streak broken. Fedorov scored twice and Alexander Semin lit the lamp once in the loss. Varlamov, a first-round draft choice by Washington in 2006, was playing in his fifth career game and allowed all five goals on 30 shots.
"Obviously we're happy to clinch the division but disappointed with the outcome of the game," Capitals forward Matt Bradley said. "I thought we played a pretty good game tonight. It was a playoff atmosphere. It was a good tune-up for the playoffs. We're going to have to limit those little mistakes that cost us goals against."
Ovechkin got the Capitals on the board first 5:35 into the game, while on a power play. Skating just to the left of the crease, he shoveled the puck into the top of the net past an out-of-position Miller.
Stafford tied the game at 9:14 when he slammed in a loose puck that caromed off a teammate's skate in the slot and fluttered into the crease. The Sabres took a 2-1 lead only 48 seconds later, when a centering pass was tipped in by the Capitals' Viktor Kozlov.
Washington scored two quick goals on the power play shortly into the second period. At 3:41, Semin stuffed in a rebound and just after the re-start, the Caps' Tomas Fleischmann dove to stop a clearing attempt. The puck went to Fedorov, who scored at 3:50 for a 3-2 lead.
The Sabres tied the game with the man advantage, as Roy redirected a shot in net with 1:43 remaining in the middle stanza. But only 23 seconds later, Fedorov's shot from the left side slipped by Miller to make it a 4-3 Capitals lead.
Buffalo nearly tied the game 2 1/2 minutes into the third period, but its goal was called off because of goaltender interference, as Afinogenov crashed into Varlamov. Afinogenov atoned for the mistake just past the midway point of the frame, as he buried a loose puck from the slot to tie the game.
Ovechkin's goal gave him 55 this season. He owns two of the top three highest goal-scoring single seasons in franchise history, having recorded 65 last year. Dennis Maruk netted 60 for the Caps in 1981-82...Buffalo went 1-for-5 on the power play, while Washington was 3-for-7...Varlamov got his first NHL loss.
04/04 02:59:10 ET