The Washington Capitals were no match for the powerhouse Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night in a 5-2 loss. The Sabres ended a three game losing streak at home, and took over top spot in the National Hockey League with 101 points. Washington failed to get a point for the first time since Olaf Kolzig returned four games ago.
The Sabres got goals from Derek Roy, Clarke MacArthur, Daniele Briere, and two from Drew Stafford. Brian Pothier and Donald Brashear scored for the Capitals.
After a scoreless first, Roy opened the scoring with a power play goal just 0:40 into the second period. Dmitri Kalinin hammered a shot from the point that missed the mark but took an odd bounce off of the back glass. The puck fell right to Roy who backhanded it into the open net and made it 1-0 Buffalo.
MacArthur made it 2-0 at 8:29 of the period. Dainius Zubrus created the chance with a nifty between-the-legs pass to Adam Mair, who relayed it to MacArthur in the slot, who snapped it past Kolzig.
Washington cut the lead to 2-1 with exactly five minutes left to go in the second. Pothier fired a slap shot from the blue line that deflected in off of a Sabres player in front of the net for his third goal of the season.
The joy was short-lived, as Briere scored just over two minutes later to give Buffalo their two goal lead back. Milan Jurcina was penalized for hooking, and it took the Sabres just five seconds to capitalize and score their second power play goal of the evening. Once again, Zubrus was instrumental as he took Steve Eminger out behind the net freeing up the puck for Briere – who walked out in front of the net and tucked it through Kolzig’s legs. It was Briere’s 30th of the season, and Buffalo became the first team to have four 30 goals scorers this season.
Zubrus had a strong game against his former Capitals team. Not only did he get assists on both MacArthur and Briere’s goals, but he also led all Sabres forwards in ice time with almost 20 minutes (19:22). He was double-shifted several times, played the power play, and even killed penalties.
In the third period, Stafford scored two goals to stretch the Sabres lead to 5-1. His first goal came when Kolzig let a Thomas Vanek shot get away from him. Nathan Paetsch picked up the rebound at the side of the net and with Kolzig out of position. He made a nifty bank pass off of the side of the net to a streaking Stafford, who put it into the open net for his tenth of the season.
Stafford’s second goal will be on every hockey highlight package this week. Stafford broke into Washington’s zone and completely undressed Capitals defenseman Steve Eminger. Stafford faked outside, and Eminger tried to play the puck instead of the man. Stafford cut sharply back inside to beat Eminger badly, and Kolzig was helpless to stop the streaking forward. It was Stafford’s eleventh of the season, but more impressively, it was his fifth goal in the last three games.
Donald Brashear got a late goal to give the game a more respectable score line. Brashear took a pass down low from Mike Green, and netted his fourth of the season. He also man-handled Sabres tough guy Andrew Peters in a second period fight.
Washington doesn’t get much time to lament – they head to Carolina for a Thursday night match-up with the playoff-hungry Hurricanes. Carolina is in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference going in, but the Capitals have played them tough. Washington can earn a moral victory and earn a season-split against Carolina with a win.
The next home game for Washington is next Tuesday against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. It is also ‘Guys Night Out’ at the Verizon Center. Visit thewebsite for more details.
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Mark Solway