The Washington Capitals opened their 2021 home campaign against the Buffalo Sabers and did so for the first time without Alex Ovechkin since 2003. I’ll say it again… 2003. Could they step into the bizarre world and come away with two points? ?
Eric Staal sent home a layup in front after Victor Olofsson stripped Zdeno Chara behind the net to open the scoring. Nicklas Backstrom converted a rebound on Tom Wilson’s attempt to tie things up.
Nic Dowd once scored the Caps in their first lead of the night after a great Caps cycle and smart feeding from Jakub Vrana. Dylan Cozens netted his first NHL goal to tie the game once again. Vrana got one of her own shortly before Riley Sheahan locked the game up again.
No overtime goals, so we had the boring old skill competition.
- Oshie didn’t put the cookie in the basket.
- Eichel did not put the cookie in the basket.
- Backstrom did not put the cookie in the basket.
- Hall didn’t put the cookie in the basket.
- Vrana did not put the cookie in the basket.
- Cozens did not put the cookie in the basket.
- Carlson put the cookie in the basket.
- Reinhart didn’t put the cookie in the basket.
The Caps beat the Sabers 4-3!
- In the first period, the Caps certainly had the quantitative advantage in terms of sending pucks to the Sabers’ net, but they were incredibly porous on the defensive end and gave up virtually all quality to Buffalo. I could see that the Chara-Jensen duo were struggling early on (that would continue the whole game) and that foresight came true when Zdeno gave up the puck behind the net and Eric Staal punished him by finishing the lay-up. They were then burned again and this led to Conor Sheary having to take the only penalty of the period. Not a good start, but tied after twenty minutes.
- Tom wilson is the Caps’ best player in their first five games and it’s pretty obvious. Fantastic screen and trick that led to Nicklas Backstromrebound goal and a little clutch, timely stick from the penalty spot.
- News broke during the first intermission that Columbus is getting closer to negotiating Pierre-Luc Dubois first thing tomorrow. Ian let us know that the Caps have a legitimate interest in acquiring the young center. However, it looks like the Winnipeg Jets could be the favorites to land him.
– Ovie the Bulldog (@OvietheBulldog) 23 January 2021
- Would you believe me if I said the Caps were even worse in the second? Something tells me you would. They have lost the battle for quantity and quality… a lot. Folks this team is struggling defensively. There is no other way to tell.
- A Brian Pinho turnover leads to Connor mcmichaelWJC teammate, Dylan cozens shooting at home his first career NHL goal. Clue, clue.
- Chara caught his first point as Washington’s capital in the second, then outscored all of his teammates in the celebration.
- I thought Vitek Vanecek Probably should have had the Sabers’ third goal, but it was still a shot from the wide open backhand. Vitek saved the Bacon Caps on about three or four other occasions in the single second. He was also absolutely fantastic in the shootout to earn the extra point at the Caps.
- To make matters worse, Tom Wilson headed to the locker room early for the second intermission. He returned at the start of the third for a shift, then immediately left for the room. The Caps have announced that he will not return due to a lower body injury and will be reassessed tomorrow. It’s bad, bad, bad.
The Capitals… without Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Orlov and Samsonov… still get the 2 points… in a shootout victory against Buffalo.
– John Shannon (@JShannonhl) 23 January 2021
- The third was much better for the Caps. You can tell that this team is going to fight offensively without the numbers 8 and 92. That’s when they should be looking to play without them. Cut the silence of the other team defensively and a heavy pre-check plus the low cycle offensively.
- Rasmus Dahlin, in my honest opinion, reduced Lars Eller on a mini-break in the third. The referees disagreed and did not award the Sabers a penalty against the Caps for 179 straight minutes. The one they did however was with 10 seconds left in the game and gave the Caps a four-to-three advantage in OT.
- I want to see Trevor van Riemsdyk making his Caps debut on Sunday and maybe another center-rink debut should come with McMichael.
#JoeBSuitOfTheNight This is the first game at Capital One Arena since March 4 against Philadelphia – lasting 324 days. https://t.co/AKe4hC1cGg
– Ian Oland (@ianoland) 23 January 2021
Well, the caps didn’t look great anymore. They have a second chance at the Sabers on Sunday in Game 2 of this non-Russia series.
Full RMNB coverage of Caps vs Sabers