Capitals double up Sabres 2-1 in D.C.

Washington beats Buffalo by one goal for the second time in less than a week

Kyle Powell
December 21, 2018 - 7:24 pm

Photo: Brad Mills - USA TODAY Sports


For the second time in less than a week, the Buffalo Sabres were defeated by the Washington Capitals by a one-goal margin. After losing in a shootout 4-3 last Saturday night, the blue and gold were done in tonight by the final score of 2-1 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

The first period saw just two penalties, one called for each side, and not much other action than that. Both the Sabres and Capitals shared minor chances, but nothing of the high-danger variety in the opening 20 minutes of play. Carter Hutton made eight saves, while Braden Holtby stopped the nine shots that he faced.

Washington struck first blood less than three minutes into the second stanza. Chandler Stephenson potted a shorthanded goal for the Capitals, thus deflating a Sabres powerplay that ended up with zero shots on the remainder of that man advantage. The home side opened the scoring and held an early 1-0 advantage in the second period.

With about 2:30 left in the second, Rasmus Ristolainen broke up a Capitals attack on the blue line, and Ristolainen found himself in a foot race with a Capitals defenseman to the loose puck. Before either skater could get to the puck in the Washington zone, Holtby came all the way out of his net to thwart any scoring opportunity. The puck was knocked down by the Sabres, and with Holtby out of the goal, Conor Sheary had a golden opportunity to tie things up for Buffalo. However, his shot was deflected out of play by the Capitals' netminder.

After 40 minutes of play in D.C., the Capitals held the 1-0 edge.

Buffalo still remained stymied by Holtby and Washington early on in the third period; that is, until the 9:01 mark. Tage Thompson took a shot that deflected off a Capitals defender in the slot, and the rebound bounced right to Johan Larsson. Larsson tapped the rebound behind Holtby and knotted the game at 1-1 just before the halfway point of the third.

The tie game was short lived for the Sabres. With seven minutes to play in regulation, Hutton vacated his net to play a puck that was dribbling deep in the Buffalo end. Washington forward Evgeny Kuznestov was able to sneak in next to Hutton, steal the puck from the veteran goaltender, and get off a pass to fellow forward Tom Wilson to re-claim the lead with the Sabres' net effectively empty. The goal was Wilson's 10th already in 2018-19 after serving a 16-game suspension to begin the campaign. Just like that, it was Washington up 2-1 with minutes winding down in the third.

The final, big chance of the night for Buffalo came with 2:12 left in regulation. Washington forward Nic Dowd was called for a tripping minor during a pile-up in front of Holtby, and the Sabres kicked off a 5-on-4 power play to end the third period. Buffalo elected not to pull Hutton off the draw for the immediate 6-on-4 advantage. They did, however, motion Hutton to the bench with 1:20 to play in regulation.

Ristolainen's point shot with 22.6-seconds to play proved to be the best chance on the power play for the Sabres, as Holtby stood tall to deny Buffalo of the game-tying goal.

The 2-1 score would stand as the Capitals survived the last-second push from the Sabres and held on to win. The loss drops Buffalo's record to 20-11-5.


Goal Summary:

First Period:


Second Period:

WSH: 2:50 - Chandler Stephenson (3) SHG (Nic Dowd)

Third Period:

BUF: 9:01 - Johan Larsson (3) (Tage Thompson, Rasmus Ristolainen)
WSH: 13:00 - Tom Wilson (10) (Evgeny Kuznetsov)


Penalty Summary:

First Period:

BUF: 4:32 - Jeff Skinner (Hooking - 2 min.)
WSH: 8:28 - Tom Wilson (Hooking - 2 min.)

Second Period:

BUF: 7:12 - Evan Rodrigues (Holding - 2 min.), 9:38 - Casey Mittelstadt (Holding - 2 min.)
WSH: 2:37 - Jonas Siegenthaler (Tripping - 2 min.)

Third Period:

BUF: 14:23 - Vladimir Sobotka (Hooking - 2 min.)
WSH: 9:24 - Matt Niskanen (Tripping - 2 min.)

Shots on Goal:

BUF: 37 (9, 11, 17)
WSH: 24 (8, 8, 8)


BUF: Carter Hutton - 22 saves
WSH: Braden Holtby - 36 saves

Power Plays:

BUF: 0 for 4 (0%)
WSH: 0 for 4 (0%)

Three Stars:

  1. Braden Holtby - WSH
  2. Tom Wilson - WSH
  3. Chandler Stephenson - WSH

What's Next:

It's another quick turnaround for Buffalo, as they travel back home to Western New York to host the Anaheim Ducks. Puck drop from KeyBank Center is set for Saturday night at 7 p.m. Brian Koziol will lead you through the Paul William Beltz Pre-Game Show at 6 p.m. on the radio home of the Buffalo Sabres - WGR Sports Radio 550.

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