After tough losses to the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins, the Washington Capitals avoided the trap game against the Buffalo Sabres and prevailed to a 4-3 win.
Unlike the previous night, the Caps got off to a good start in the opening period. Brenden Dillon scored his second goal of the season on a shot from downtown. Justin Schultz and T.J. Oshie had the helpers and the goal came at 2:39.
Henri Jokiharju got the Sabres on the board with a goal at 18:26. 2-1 was the score after one with the Sabres leading in shots 9-7.
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The Caps got off to a strong start in the second period. 28 seconds in Lars Eller fed Schultz. Schultz slap shotted it in for his third goal of the season.
The Sabres got a goal back thanks to Casey Mittelstadt at 10:08. 3-2 was the score after two periods with the Caps leading in shots 15-12.
At 9:48 in the third Jakub Vrana roofed his 11th goal of the season and first in a minute assisted by Schultz and Eller.
Peter Laviolette, who scratched Vrana for two games, was asked about the goal:
“It was a big goal. Great play by Schultzy to slide it to him, and he’s got a really good shot, an unbelievable shot. It’s quick. It’s usually on point, and it was nice to see him deliver that. You take a goal like that and build some confidence off it and have it moving in the right direction as well.”
Tage Thompson got one back for the Sabres. Ovechkin thought he had his second goal of the game but Tom Wilson was called offsides so his goal was waved off. Tragic.
Nevertheless, the Caps hung on for a 4-3 win. Vitek Vanecek made 30 saves on 33 shots for a .909 save percentage. The Sabres outshot the Caps 12-11 in the third period while shots were even overall at 33.
Justin Schultz talked to the media about the win. Via Samantha Pell of The Washington Post (subscription required):
“Not the effort or result we wanted last night, so it was important for us to come out tonight and get the two points. I thought we played pretty well. There’s some areas for improvement, but we got the job done. It was a tough back-to-back, and we move on now.”
The Caps conclude their brief two game road trip on Sunday night against the Boston Bruins. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.