While tonight’s 3-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres was void of much excitement, it wonderfully showcased all of what the Capitals have worked hard on during the off-season, such as their early scoring and penalty kill.
The first period was lackluster to say the least. Other than Daniel Winnik’s early goal at 5:08, nothing of huge importance happened. Grubauer was phenomenal in goal, as the under-appreciated 25-year-old typically is, with some very nice saves. The defense was surprisingly good, something you don’t see very often when 31 is in goal, unfortunately. Williams did take a penalty early on for goaltender interference but the strong PK had no problem dealing with it. Sanford had a beautiful breakaway, but was robbed of the goal by Anders Nilsson. Marcus Foligno was the next to go in the box for another interference call, but it had no real impact on the game. Overall, the Caps played well, just not great.
The second period was another dull one, played well but not remarkably so. Grubs continued to be the star of the game and keep the Sabres from scoring, but he had the help of some incredible defense from his teammates, who continued to be very fast and keep Buffalo on their toes. On the power play, after Johan Larson took a slashing penalty, the Caps took shot after shot, never letting up. It wasn’t long before Marcus Johansson scored at 13:25 and gave us the 2-0 lead. Buffalo eventually got another penalty, Taylor Fedun, this time, with holding. Brett Connolly followed suit, a few minutes later, with a hooking call, and would carry this penalty into the third.
Speaking of the third, it didn’t start off very differently from the previous two. It was a little slow and dull, but it would liven up soon enough. Alex Ovechkin landed himself a tripping penalty and only minutes after it ended, Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board with a goal, almost ten minutes in. Not long after, Andre Burakovsky got called with a delay-of-game penalty which only served to show how remarkable our penalty kill is this season. Though it almost didn’t get caught, Buffalo was hit with the too many men on the ice penalty, pointed out by Justin Williams and the fans. Thank goodness it did, however, because it led to Brett Connolly’s power play goal late in the game. After that, it was the Capitals’ strength and determination that led to our 3-1 win.