The Buffalo Sabres showed the Washington Capitals on Saturday night that speed kills. The Capitals came out flat and got absolutely blown away, 5-0. Apparently, after the game coach Bruce Boudreau of the Capitals was as mad as he has ever been, since taking over the reigns last November.
The Capitals looked flat from the start. Thomas Vanek caught Mike Green napping, just 1:12 into the game, blowing by him for a 1-0 Buffalo lead. It was Vanek's tenth goal of the year. The Capitals went two men down mid way through the first, on penalties by Donald Brashear (tripping) and Jeff Shultz (interference) at 11:09 and 11:32. Just as Brashear was coming out of the box, Buffalo's Derek Roy found the net, beating Theodore on the back side, to give Buffalo a 2-0 lead. Buffalo was not done yet in the first. Mike Green trying to exit the zone, made a bad clear and Jason Pominville and Buffalo made the Capitals pay once more at 19:36 of the first. At the end of one period, Buffalo lead the Capitals 3-0 and out shot them 14-7.
The Capitals in the second period seemed to have calmed down a bit as they out shot Buffalo 14-4. That is, until Mike Green got caught up ice again leading to a two-on-one. Vanek again found the net at 19:57 his eleventh of the year and second of the game. After two periods it was 4-0 Buffalo.
The Capitals just could not get anything going in the third period either. Again, at 11:59 of the third period, Buffalo's Daniel Paille poked a pass to Jurcina around him, catching Washington's defense up ice again and Buffalo made them pay a fifth time on the two-on-one. For Paille it was his second of the season. The final score after three periods was 5-0 in favor of Buffalo.
The Sabres not only outworked the Capitals, but got a strong performance from Ryan Miller in goal, as he stopped all 29 shots he faced. He made a couple beautiful saves on Fleishman, Green, and Semin to not allow the Capitals to get back into the game. The Capitals power-play struggled against Buffalo's strong penalty-kill, going zero for five. The only positive note on the night for the Capitals was their strong penalty-kill work, killing off seven of eight Buffalo chances. The speed of Buffalo and their tenacity for the puck is what ultimately did the Capitals in. The Capitals all night got outworked and they paid for it. As I warned yesterday, it would be important for the Capitals defense to contain Buffalo's speedy offense and they could not do it. The end result, a five to nothing shutout for Ryan Miller and the Sabres.
Mike Green took the blame after the game for his and the teams poor effort. Boudreau from his post game comments seemed to be concerned with the way the whole team played. All I can picture is Herb Brooks saying, "Again," making those USA players work their tails off after a game, where they played poorly in pre-olympic play. I just hope Boudreau doesn't kill anyone today at practice.
Shaone Morrisonn went down in the second, after blocking a shot, with an undisclosed injury. He was apparently taken to the hospital with abdominal issues, but was going to travel home with the team. If he can't go against Ottawa, the Capitals will have to decide whether to call someone up again or put Federov back on defense.
The Capitals will head to Ottawa next to face the Senators on Tuesday night. The Capitals hope to have their star forward, Alex Ovechkin, back and rejuvenated after his trip to Russia to visit his ailing grandfather. The Senators, like the Capitals, have struggled early on this season. Ottawa is currently last in the Northeast division with ten points.
More to come later...