The Washington Capitals hosted the Buffalo Sabres tonight in their second to last pre-season game. The game was a solid warm-up before the regular season starts, as the Caps were finally near full strength. Obviously, the lines aren’t quite set, but the Caps showed their grit in the come-from-behind win.
The first two periods belonged the to the Buffalo Sabres before the Caps turned it on in the final period and held on in overtime and the shootout to pull out the win. It was a night of good and bad for the Caps, ultimately with good winning the day.
In the first period, the Caps struck first as Alexander Ovechkin made a great move, and gave the puck of to Nicklas Backstrom as he scored the first goal 8:06 into the first period. Almost instantaneously, the Sabres responded with a goal of their own as Jason Pominville scored his third goal of the pre-season. Thomas Vanek got his first goal of the night in the first period as he knocked in a deflected Christian Ehrhoff shot.
Matt Hendricks got an elusive double-minor in the second period. After the game Coach Bruce Boudreau was asked what happened to merit such a penalty “Matt said something the referee didn’t like” with a chuckle.
The Caps tied the game up thanks to a Mike Green deflection before conceding another sloppy goal. Vanek got his second of the game as he cleaned up a Mike Weber off-target shot. The defense and goalie Thomas Vokoun seemed to have a communication breakdown on that goal, as Vanek was barely covered. Boudreau said: “The newness did complicate things between Thomas [Vokoun] and the defense… Once we got that straightened out we played a solid third period”.
The Caps played what was arguably their best period of the preseason in the final frame. Although, to be clear “Energy and fore-checking was good in the first two periods” Boudreau made sure to point out. Matt Hendricks said he had been working with Mike Knuble a lot during the preseason and it showed in his goal in the third period, to tie things up, as he cleaned up a Mike Green rebound.
The Caps came through in the shootout as Vokoun stopped Luke Adam in the seventh round of the shootout. Washington got goals from Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom. While the Sabres got goals from Gerbe and Pominville.
With the win the Caps improved to 2-3-1 in the preseason. The Caps finish up their preseason on Sunday with a game at home against the Chicago Blackhawks at 5 PM.
Follow Brendan Darr on twitter: @BrendanDarr1067