The Washington Capitals conclude their long road trip in Buffalo, New York with a 3-2 win over the Sabres. This was by far the better game than the one prior in the Windy City. Overall, the Caps came up winning two of the four games.
First game against the Winnipeg Jets was a wakeup call. Caps went on to lose 4-3 where Mark Scheifele went on to open up the scoring with a backhander pass Braden Holtby. Nicklas Backstrom responded shortly after in the 1st period to tie things up. With goals later in the game from Andre Burakovsky and John Carlson, Caps thought they had this game in the bag. Sadly, complacency killed the Caps. The Jets tied the game with two late goals from Bryan Little and again from Scheifele. Stunned, Caps couldn’t pick their game back up and paid the price with an overtime goal from Winnipeg’s defensive tower Tyler Myers. Caps deserved that one for failing to close out the game they were winning in the first place.
Second game was against the Minnesota Wild, where the Caps played very well in their 5-2 win. Philipp Grubauer was named the starter and played great, making 32 saves on the night. The boys in red started the push early, scoring the first three goals in the first half of the game. Shots on net was a priority and shots on net they did with an end game total of 27, despite being out shot by the Wild with 34. Caps played a well bump-and-grind style of hockey, resulting in the win. Female-favorite Tom Wilson tallied his first multi-goal night with the early snipe and the empty netter.
Third game was by far the worst game this season and probably ever in history between the two teams. The Chicago Blackhawks absolutely wiped the floor and embarrassed the Caps with a whopping 7-1 end score. No one was on their game (or playing it), to include Holtby. Obviously, Holtby was replaced in the final period by Grubauer. Wilson did however hit his career high in season goals (10) and coach Barry Trotz hit his 1,500th milestone game behind an NHL bench as head coach. This game may forever haunt the Caps as it did the fans. On a side note, a group of Chicago fans felt it was necessary to racially taunt Devante Smith-Pelly when he was sent to the box for a minor penalty. Reporters stated that the fans called him the ‘N’ word and told him that he was playing the wrong sport, chanting “basketball” afterwards. Arena security quickly removed the pestering fans from the venue. The Blackhawks organization announced this morning that the four fans involved in the altercation have been banned from the hometown arena and are no longer allowed to attend a Chicago Blackhawks home game while expressing their intolerance for racism. A great move and response by the organization. There is no tolerance for racism in the United States nor in the sport of hockey.
Finally, the Caps wrapped up the roadie in Buffalo. The boys responded well, but barely got away with this one. Again, the Caps lacked the final twenty-minute effort. They allowed a goal with :03.3 seconds remaining from Evander Kane, who was uncontested and waiting on the backdoor of Grubauer. With an excellent performance from the ‘Berlin Wall’ and the Caps for getting shots on net, the boys squeaked by with a tight victory to closeout the trip. Alex Ovechkin scored his 34th goal, retaining his place among the NHL in goals on the season in first and putting him closer to his 600-goal milestone seven goals shy.
Caps return to Washington tonight and will host Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Capital One Arena. Puck drop will at 7:30 p.m. EST. Be sure to tune in and look out for us on Twitter @InColdPlacesDC and @Jurky88. Go Caps!