The last time these two teams played, the Capitals absolutely dominated the Sabres right from the get go, and it was only thanks to a brilliant performance by Ryan Miller that Buffalo escaped with a 2-1 win. Tonight's game was much closer, and the shot totals were essentially even throughout the night. Helped early on by penalties, the Sabres looked evenly matched with the Caps, and did finish with a 31-29 advantage in shots.
But despite the evenness of play, the story was once again Ryan Miller.
Miller shut out the Capitals, allowing Washington's only goal because Brian Flynn deflected the puck into his own net on a stick check. He made a save-of-the-year candidate late in the third to keep the game tied, Miller was once again spectacular in the shootout, stoning all three Capitals shooters to give Buffalo two points.
The aforementioned Brian Flynn own-goal occurred midway through the first period, and Jason Chimera was credited with the goal. Late in the first, the Sabres evened things up on one of their five power plays, thanks to a beautiful shoot-rebound combination from Christian Ehrhoff, and the goal-scorer Tyler Ennis. The second period brought us no changes to the score, despite a bevy of Sabres power plays.
Things got wild at the end of the third period, when with two minutes left, Ryan Miller made one of the best saves of his career when he dove across the net and swatted a Mikhail Grabvoski shot with the tip of his stick blade to send it just wide. A minute later, Washington scored the game winning goal...only the whistle had blown second earlier on a penalty to the Caps.
During the OT, Washington got away with a blatant too many men penalty, apparently needing five skaters in order to stop an unsuccessful Matt D'Agostini rush. Once the game made it to a shootout, anyone who's watched Ryan Miller this year knew how it would end.
This Save Is So Good It Deserves Its Own Highlight
1. How will Hodgson and Leino fare coming back into the lineup?
Hodgson scored the shootout winner, and his line along with D'Agostini and Ott generated seven shots to lead all Sabres forward lines. The line of Flynn-Leino-Omark was Buffalo's worst line this afternoon based on the eye test, and had the team's lowest possession numbers.
2. Will Miller put on a repeat performance against the unofficial Team Russia contingent?
YES. Just stop it with the Jonathan Quick talk already. Nobody is hotter in net than Miller, and he's been getting better by the month.
1. Ryan Miler - USA! USA! USA!
2. Philipp Grubauer - turns out he's Washington's goalie
3. Tyler Ennis - the only player to score on purpose
Quote of the Game
"They lulled us to sleep."
- Nicklas Backstrom
We've been there, Nick. We've been there.
Small Child of the Game
This kid, for tossing Steve Ott out of the ceremonial faceoff.
Make-a-Wish recipient Braden Nienaber throws Steve Ott out of the ceremonial face-off. I like this kid's style. pic.twitter.com/ge1z3alpOP— Ian Oland (@ianoland) January 12, 2014
Comment of the Game
NYI and EDM please win tonight now :(
Winning is fun, but Miller's brilliance is getting dangerous.