Currently standing at 4-4-2 in the month of December, and 4-0-1 at home, the Buffalo Sabres turn to a 5 o’clock matinee game versus the high-scoring-Ovechkin-charged
Buffalo would not walk all over the Capitals, despite having a stronger presence at home in December. Starting Philipp Grubauer against Ryan Miller once again. Entering tonight, Miller owned a .924 save percentage, and he showed just why he owns it.
The Sabres relied heavily on the consistent Miller to bail them out of a supercharged Capital offense. Ok, so relied is a total understatement as Buffalo completely left him out to dry as they were outshot an abysmal 15-3 in the opening period.
Miller would not have it, as he was equal to the task, matching in saves, with 15.
Cheers of “We Want A Shot” from the crowd soon filled the arena. Matt D’Agostini answered the crowd with 4:26 remaining as he registered Buffalo’s first shot of the night, igniting cheers from all of First Niagara Center.
At the end of 1, the game was tied at 0-0. Alex Ovechkin registered 6 shots on net in the first period alone, looking for number 31. Buffalo was outshot 15-3.
Hoping for a fresh start, Buffalo turned to the second period to kick it up.
Buffalo, notorious for lacking in the middle period, matched their total shots on net in the first two minutes, with Zemgus Girgensons, Matt Moulson, and Jamie McBain notching some good shots to start the second.
Keeping up the pace, Buffalo continued to keep making noise in the offensive zone, firing 5 shots in the first 10 minutes.
Ryan Miller continued to keep Buffalo in the game, inhaling everything and anything that came his way.
After a hit on Ville Leino, Tom Wilson met up with Marcus Foligno at the Sabres blue line and threw a couple of fists. After the scrap, both received 5 for fighting and Foligno took the 10 minute misconduct. Linus Omark would sit the 2 minute instigator penalty to Foligno.
Late in the second, Washington seemingly took back control of the game, opening up the shots once again, leading them 30-9 with 2 minutes left in the middle period.
But that didn’t stop Buffalo.
During an aggressive forecheck by Steve Ott regaining the puck, Drew Stafford planted himself in front of the net, behind the Capitals John Erskine, and tipped a shot by Christian Ehrhoff past Grubauer. The goal came on Buffalo’s 10th shot.
At the end of two, Buffalo was in the lead, 1-0, despite suffering a barrage of shots, trailing 30-11 in shots. It was the fourth time this season that Buffalo had a lead after two periods.
Buffalo started the period rolling off of the spark from Stafford’s goal, stifling countless Capital opportunity.
However, the Capitals would tie the game from a bad turnover by Steve Ott. Receiving a cross ice feed from Mikhail Grabovski, Troy Brouwer buried a slapshot top left corner over a crease-crossing Miller to even the game.
Miller kept Buffalo in the game, pulling out two crucial saves about halfway through the third.
A little over halfway through the last period, the Capitals commanded the shot sheet, 37-14.
Buffalo came close to scoring again, when Matt Moulson and Christian Ehrhoff whiffed point blank shots that Grubauer was able to make a save on.
With four minutes to go, the Sabres were still on the sad end of an offensive effort, being outshot 38-16.
At the buzzer, the score was still tied at 1-1 as Buffalo and Washington headed to overtime. For the 7th time in 10 games, Buffalo had managed to at least pull one point out of the game. Through three periods of play, Washington outshot the Sabres 45-16.
The Capitals pressed early on, trying desperately to put this game away. But Ryan Miller stayed equal to the task.
With 27 seconds left in OT, Buffalo nearly ended the game, but the puck slid right across the crease and for the second straight game, Buffalo would take this game through to the shootout.
At the end of the extra period, the final shot count was 50-17.
So now the team with the most appearances in the shootout faces the team with arguably the best shootout goaltender.
Matt Moulson, Tyler Ennis, and Zemgus Girgensons would get the nod for the starting three, facing Fehr, Ovechkin, Backstrom.
Both goalies faced the first three with success, going 3/3, Miller highlighted the first frame with two keystops on Ovechkin and Backstrom.
Buffalo would go through five shooters, the same with Washington, both unable to score.
Linus Omark got his first chance at a Buffalo shootout and nearly scored, but rang the puck off of the goal post. Originally signaled as a goal and the horn blowing, it was a heartbreaking call that shot anxiety through Sabres fans.
Buffalo favorite Steve Ott would be the straw that broke the camels back. Staring down the rookie goaltender, Ott strolled right into the zone and with a flick of the wrist almost like he was reciting Wingardium Leviosa, literally lifted the puck like magic and sent the arena in an uproar as Buffalo walked off with a 2-1 win in the shootout.
Buffalo now stands with a 5-0-1 in their last 6 games at home, and the Queen City is loving the energy in December after a horrible start in the beginning of the season.
Ryan Miller was near perfect tonight, stopping 49 of 50 shots, and all six shooters in the shootout.
BUFFALO // CAPITALS
Moulson X // Fehr X
Ennis X // Ovechkin X
Girgensons X // Backstrom X
Omark X // Grabovski X
Flynn X // Brouwer X
Ott √ // Green X