Capitals rattled by Sabres, lose in OT 4-5

DC’s hockey team put together another costly schizophrenic approach to tonight’s game. They began poorly, finishing well late but in the end doomed themselves once again with a mistake in the overtime period. Buffalo’s Tage Thompson had a four-point night including a hat trick plus the game-winner in overtime. Alex Ovechkin scored two goals for the Capitals in a losing effort.

Buffalo dominated the opening period jumping out to a 2-1 lead on goals by Alex Tuch and Thompson. The goals were split by a Sonny Milano tally at 12:07. Anthony Mantha dove for a loose puck and pushed it out of the defensive zone. Milano recovered it and ended up with a breakaway. He finished with a backhanded shot in the top shelf area of the net over Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s catching glove. But the Sabres had clearly established their forechecking game early.

The second period featured more of the same from both teams. The Sabres controlled the majority of the scoring chances while the Capitals continued to have trouble maintaining possession. Thompson scored again at 5:50 to give Buffalo a two-goal lead.

Midway through the second, coach Peter Laviolette decided to drastically change his coward line combinations. The gambit worked as eventually, the Capitals tilted the playing surface in their favor. Ovechkin scored at 16:46 after Evgeny Kuznetsov won an offensive zone face-off. The Captain fired his patented snapshot a split second later that whistled past Luukkonen’s ear and into the net.

The third period saw a wild 20 minutes unfold. The Capitals carried the momentum from the end of the second period. Nic Dowd tied the game just 55 seconds into the third. After Nick Jensen broke into zone he gave the puck to Milano. From the half-boards he threw the puck in front of the net where Dowd put it away. The Capitals controlled the game for the next several minutes and scored again for the lead at 7:10. Conor Sheary found Ovechkin in front of the net and passed it. Ovechkin made no mistake snapping it home.

But the momentum soon swung back into Buffalo’s favor, as they began to control play. Tyson Jost scored to tie the game at 11:42 after the Sabres stormed the net. For the remainder of the period, both teams treated high danger chances with the hopes of putting away the game. With exactly 2 minutes to go in the game, Kuznetsov was called for a tripping penalty. With 17 seconds remaining in the game, Lars Eller was called for yet another tripping penalty put putting the Capitals down by two men. They did manage to kill off the original penalty and force overtime.

In the overtime session, Eller’s penalty was also killed successfully. With just under three minutes gone by the Capitals tried to complete a breakout from their own zone. Eller tried to reverse the puck from behind the net past Tuch along the back boards. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication between Eller and Darcy Kuemper, resulting in a turnover to Tuch who found Thompson in front of the net and ended the game with an easy goal.

NOTES—TJ Oshie returned to the lineup after missing the last six games with an upper body injury. The Capitals have now obtained at least one standings point in the last eight games. As of tonight’s results, they hold the first wild card position in the Eastern Conference. Ovechkin now has 28 goals for the season. The Capitals’ next game is scheduled for Thursday, January 5th against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Nationwide Arena. The start time is scheduled for 7 PM ET.

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