If you handed out style points, the Washington Capitals wouldn’t have loaded up on a ton tonight. They earned two standings points, however, which is what really matters.
It wasn’t easy, but Washington topped the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 via a shootout victory. In the process, the Capitals expanded their lead over the Boston Bruins for the East’s top wild card spot to four points and really pulled away from the bubble pack.
Again, the Capitals had to hold their breath (while the Bruins and others crossed their fingers) for much of the contest.
Buffalo got off to a 1-0 lead by taking advantage of a power play initiated by some rough stuff from Alex Ovechkin. The Sabres also finished the first period with a 2-1 edge.
Washington chipped away in the second period, eventually tying things up thanks to a Mike Green goal. Evgeny Kuznetsov’s power-play snipe gave the Capitals their first lead of the contest:
The Sabres didn’t go quietly, however, as Johan Larsson locked things up at 3-3. Despite plenty of chances for both sides – including a bucket of shots by Ovechkin all night – an eventual overtime period went without a goal.
Braden Holtby ultimately held on for a shootout win, giving him two crucial wins in as many appearances. He would probably agree that it wasn’t easy, though:
Sometimes successful teams just need to grind out wins, and this seems like a solid example of that for Washington.
Buffalo, meanwhile, remains last overall in the NHL (although Edmonton was glad to see the gap between them close from four to three points).