Alex Ovechkin

Ovechkin says his turnover vs. Buffalo “cost us the game”


On Tuesday, Jason Pominville scored Buffalo’s fourth goal in a 5-1 win over the Caps. Reading the boxscore or watching the game highlights, that goal may not have seemed decisive — it was the second of Buffalo’s three insurance markers, after all — but the play from which it came was a major statement.

More, from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News:

The Buffalo Sabres were down to three defensemen, two in the dressing room injured and another in the penalty box. The Washington Capitals were on a power play looking to pull within a goal after trailing, 3-0, early in the second period. The Verizon Center crowd was roaring.

Then came a play that might be the defining moment of these teams’ battle for the final playoff spot in the East.

The puck rolled softly to the Buffalo blue line and Alex Ovechkin played it nonchalantly at the left point. Jason Pominvile outworked Ovechkin on the boards and took off, with his opposing captain hardly getting back with any force.

Pominville beat Michal Neuvirth between the legs for a short-handed goal that gave the Sabres a 4-1 lead. They never looked back in a 5-1 win.

Ovechkin? He slammed his stick against the back of the net and trudged to the bench.

“I should play [the puck] with my skate, not my stick,” Ovechkin told the Washington Post. “This mistake probably cost us the game.”

The loss leaves Washington in a precarious state: Five games left in the regular season (none against Buffalo) with three of them on the road, where the Caps are 14-20-4 this year.

In that light, Ovechkin’s turnover might not have been just a game-changing gaffe.

It could be a season-changing one as well.

Leafs prospects Nylander and Kapanen heading to AHL

William Nylander
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The Toronto Maple Leafs trimmed their training camp roster by 16 players on Sunday.

Two of the Leafs’ top prospects, William Nylander and Kasperi Kapanen, are heading to the the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.

For the full list of cuts, click here.

Nylander was Toronto’s first round pick, eighth overall, in 2014.

The 19-year-old scored an impressive 14 goals and 32 points in 37 games with the Marlies in 2014-15.

Kapenen, 19, was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Phil Kessel trade.

He had one goal and one assist in a brief four game stint with Pittsburgh’s farm team last season.

The rebuilding Maple Leafs have no issue being patient with their top young prospects. Both players could make their NHL debut at some point this season, but they may have to wait a little while longer before they become regulars at the next level.

The Leafs now have 24 players on their training camp roster. They have until Tuesday to put the finishing touches on their lineup. Toronto needs to cut at least one more player.

Torres suspended pending hearing

Raffi Torres, Cory Schneider

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Raffi Torres has been suspended pending his disciplinary hearing with the league for his hit on Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Torres was assessed a match penalty for targeting Silfverberg’s head on Saturday night.

The 33-year-old missed all of last season with a knee injury, and it looks like the start of his regular season will be delayed once again.

Head coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have come back into the game, but he was held out for precautionary reasons.

Ducks center Ryan Kesler didn’t hide his feelings after the contest.

“(Torres) is the same player every year,” Kesler told reporters. “He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore.”