Just another night at the office for Ovechkin: a goal, two assists and the invention of a new dance. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
On Fan Appreciation Day, the Capitals certainly rewarded their supporters. In front of 18,398 deafening fans — good for the Caps’ 100th consecutive sellout — Washington pulled out a thrilling overtime victory, moving into the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Caps struck first and early when just 37 seconds in John Carlson fired a wrist shot that Buffalo Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth failed to collect. The red-hot Mike Knuble then did his usual dirty work in the crease to net the opening tally.
Washington jumped out to a two goal lead at 4:41 when Alexander Semin — who was on the ice for eight chances for and three against — scored a similar goal to Knuble’s, tapping in Nicklas Backstrom’s rebound behind Enroth. PANIC!!!1 Timeout Buffalo.
Lindy Ruff’s T.O. would work wonders as just 1:51 later Tomas Vanek put the Sabres on the board as he tipped in Jason Pominville’s shot. At 9:28 Buffalo tied the game when Drew Stafford unleashed what appeared to be a weak, harmless looking shot from the point. After glancing off Jeff Schultz’s leg, the bouncing biscuit went five-hole on Michal Neuvirth, who appeared never to see it.
In the second, both team were even at 11 shots on goal for the frame, but neither converted on their chances.
The teams remained scoreless for most of the third period until Paul Gaustad broke in behind the Capitals defense and faked out Neuvirth to give Buffalo the 3-2 lead.
Less than two minutes later, however, Knuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuble netted his second goal of the match, as he deflected Brooks Laich’s shot from the point on the man advantage to tie the game once again.
But speaking of second goals, it was Stafford who struck again for the Sabres, scoring 2:31 after Knuble’s marker when Carlson ran into Neuvirth, preventing him from making the save. The head coach appeared enraged at rookie defenseman on television, yelling: “What the [Boudreau] was that?”. BRUCE MAD!
“I just talked to him about it,” Bruce Boudreau said after the game. “It’s under four minutes to go in the game and we’re killing a penalty and we didn’t have full control even. We’re just taking off. We can’t do that. And then we have to come back like a chicken with their heads cut off.”
With just 52 seconds left and Neuvirth pulled the Caps netted the tying tally in dramatic fashion as Jason Arnott backhanded home Alex Ovechkin’s rebound, his 400th career goal.
It was also the Capitals’ second power play marker of the game. The captain summed it up well.
“Power play worked today good,” Ovechkin said.
“Anytime we can score a power play goal it’s a beautiful thing,” he remarked.
“Good for our confidence,” said Marcus Johansson of the power play. “You feel you can score when you have to score.”
In overtime, well, you know what it was: Ovi Time. Ovechkin curled and dragged pass two Sabres before firing a wrist shot pass Enroth. Boom. First place. WINGS! IS PARTY NOW! WE WE WE SO EXCITED! Shall we dance? Caps shock Sabres, 5-4.
Games remaining: three.
Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg and Ian Oland.
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