Photo: Kevin Hoffman
The Washington Capitals managed to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 at First Niagara Center despite missing their entire first defensive pairing in Brooks Orpik and John Carlson. While Orpik been out most of the year with a mystery lower-body injury, Carlson missed his first game in nearly six years after suffering a lower-body injury of his own against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. Carlson played 25:11 that evening. On Monday, he was replaced in the lineup by prospect Connor Carrick.
Carlson, who ended a streak of 412 consecutive games, was just 10 games away from matching Bobby Carpenter’s franchise record of 422.
“Playing in this league and you get 400-plus games in a row is pretty good now,” Barry Trotz said after the game to the media. “Especially for a defenseman when you can’t hold up like you used to. Guys are taking free shots at you going 30 MPH.”
“[Carlson]’s pretty durable,” Trotz continued. “He’s a big guy. He’s a terrific talent. We missed him tonight but guys stepped up and that’s the blessing of having people out. You find out a lot about your group and you find out about the guys waiting for opportunity.”
Carlson took the ice pre-game but looked to be skating gingerly during warm-ups.
“He’s pretty close,” Trotz said. “He was honest and said, ‘I’m probably not going to be able to help you the way I want to.’ We took him out unfortunately. We’ll try to get him ready for next game.”
Meanwhile, the Capitals also lost Michael Latta to an injury in the second period after dropping the gloves with Nicolas Deslauriers.
“He got hurt in the fight a little bit,” Trotz said. “Just a little upper-body injury to his arm. We’ll reevaluate him tomorrow.”
Latta fought Deslauriers after the Sabres forward took a rough run at veteran Justin Williams. Williams left the game for about eight minutes of game time before returning.
After the fight, Latta was ushered to the locker room instead of the penalty box to tend to his injury. The team thought Deslauriers’ hit was dangerous.
“I think we thought the hit was a little bit unnecessary if you will,” Trotz said. “That’s what’s great about our team is they stick together really well. They got each other’s back. Guys are all for Lats there.”
After Deslauriers won the fight, he waved his arms to the crowd as if he won the WWE Heavyweight Title.
“I thought even the Latta fight we got a little momentum, a little karma when #44 wants to play it up a little bit like that,” Trotz said. “That’s usually good karma and it actually helped us out on the bench. [Ovechkin] scored right away. I thought it was just more than anything karma.”
Despite having their number seven defenseman and a call-up in the line-up, the Caps didn’t miss a beat.
“I just think it’s a combination of pride and the types of guys we have,” Trotz said.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 29, 2015
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