Sabres vs, Capitals recap
Updated: Feb 12
The Buffalo Sabres fell to the Washington Capitols last night to open their 2021 season. The final tally was 6-4 in a game where Buffalo trailed by 2 goals or more for the better part of the contest. The scoring came quick when Caps center Nikolas Backstrom put one behind Sabres goalie Carter Hutton at the 5:43 mark of the first period. Just three minutes later new Sabre acquisition Taylor Hall netted his first goal of the season on the power play.
Sabres fans watching from home jumped out of their seats in pure joy and high fived everyone in sight as the train horn blared from inside the arena. Former Hart trophy winner Hall immediately showed his value by tying the game at one apiece. Assisting Hall on the goal were Victor Oloffson and Jack Eichel. Also scoring for Buffalo were Tobias Rieder, Jake McCabe, and Victor Oloffson. Unfortunately for the Sabres, scoring four goals would not be enough to overtake the Capitals on this evening.
Buffalo came out of the gate looking sluggish. At one point in the first period the Caps had a 10-3 shot advantage. During the week preceding the game, Sabres coach Ralph Krueger responded more than once to questions about the importance of this game by referring to how the team will need to get their feet under them. Conditioning maybe an issue for this team and that needs to change in a hurry given the shortened season.
Perhaps Ralph needs to take a page from the Herb Brooks playbook and whip the players into shape. The system coach Krueger is installing will not be effective if the team is too exhausted to execute it. Being that every team has had such a long layoff, conditioning is going to be a factor with all of them. It's an area in which Buffalo could get a leg up if the coach demands it. Not sure nice guy Ralph has it in him to drill the boys in such manner.
Hall and Eichel looked great together. There was a moment when Eichel took a smooth pass from Hall and had only the Washington goalie to beat from point blank range. Watching that play unfold and knowing what we know about Eichel, fans had already tallied that shot as a goal before it ever left Jack's stick. Alas, Caps goalie Samsonov made a brilliant save and the game plodded onward.
With a few minutes left in regulation and the score at 5-3 Caps lead, Hutton skated to the bench in favor of an extra attacker. Moments later the Sabres scored to make it a 5-4 game. Once again, Sabres fans rejoiced with glee as a sense of hope had been restored. Less then one minute later, and with about one minute remaining in regulation and the intensity of the high drama permeating from the ice of KeyBank Center onto the screens of Sabres fans across the land, Goal!!! This time it was the Caps knocking in an empty netter to seal Buffalo's fate. Game over.
Here are the official game highlights:
The Sabres have a chance to redeem themselves tonight as they host the Capitals again at KeyBank Center in downtown Buffalo beginning at 7pm. They need to win this game in order to avoid starting the season at 0-2. Linus Ullmark will likely be in net tonight as the coach has said he plans to alternate the goalies. Net-minding and energy will be the keys to tonight's game. The Sabres need to storm the Capitals.