Sabres vs. Capitals Recap: Welcome To The Driver's Seat

March 27, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Drew Stafford (21) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals in the third period at Verizon Center. The Sabres won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

The Buffalo Sabres are now officially in the driver's seat when it comes to the playoffs after their 5-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.

The Sabres didn't experience their normal first period lull as they had in the last couple of games. Instead, they came out and continued to put pucks on starting goaltender Brayden Holtby and at the eight minute mark of the period, Holtby mishandled the puck behind the net. That led to the puck on Cody McCormick's stick and he found the back of the net for his first goal of the season:

The Cody McCormick goal tied a franchise record of 30 different goal scorers in a season. The Sabres last had 30 different scorers in the 1991-92 season.

Follow the jump for the rest of the recap.

The Sabres continued to put pressure on the Capitals and got their second goal of the game ten minutes later as Drew Stafford scored his first goal off a rebound from a Tyler Myers shot. That would be Stafford's first of two goals on the game and assists came from Tyler Myers and Tyler Ennis.

The Sabres didn't get out of the first period without some issues. Christian Ehrhoff left the period after a knee on knee collision with Troy Brouwer and didn't return to the game. The Sabres outshot the Capitals 15-10 in the period and Ryan Miller quietly saved all 10 shots in the period.

In the second period, Thomas Vanek scored his 25th goal of the season on a Holtby rebound from a Cody Hodgson shot. That would be the last shot Holtby faced as he gave up three goals on 18 shots and was pulled from Michael Neuvirth. That goaltender change would shift the dynamic of the game for a few minutes as Alexander Semin scored the Capitals first goal three minutes later on a shot from the point.

Panic started to set in with Sabres fans as Andrej Sekera left the game after blocking an Alexander Ovechkin shot and hobbling off the ice. Patrick Kaleta would leave the game as well for a bit after blocking a shot with the hand that had a cast on it. With just four defensemen in the lineup, the Sabres looked like they were in dire straits for the rest of the game.

Then this goal happened:

After the Sabres took another three goal lead, it seemed like the spirit of the Capitals was broken. Andrej Sekera and Patrick Kaleta did return to the ice from their injuries which gave the Sabres some much needed bodies. The Capitals did manage to outshoot the Sabres 19-6 in the third period, but Ryan Miller had another fantastic game as he turned away 45 shots to preserve the win. The Sabres would put the icing on the cake as Drew Stafford scored his second goal of the game on an odd man rush with Tyler Ennis. That goal was Stafford's fifth goal and 14th point in the last eight games.

The Sabres will now have a couple of days to rest up to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at First Niagara Center on Friday night. The Capitals will lick their wounds and try and regather themselves as they face the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.

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