Quick Hits: Sabres vs. Capitals

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If I told you that the Sabres score would be the same 4-1 score as against the Bruins, many of you would have thought that Washington had won the game. What actually happened is, the Sabres showed up, and beat down the best team in the NHL. It was the Sabres third win in their last four games.

The Sabres made one two lineup changes. Mark Pysyk went in for injured Josh Gorges, and Phil Varone replaced injured Zemgus Girgensons.

Chad Johnson got the start for the Sabres, while Braden Holtby got the nod for the Capitals.

In the first period Phil Varone quickly made his presence known in his first NHL game of the season. He threw a nice hit a few minutes in, and then scored his 5th career NHL goal. Varone started the play by getting it back to the point, and then buried a rebound opportunity.

The Sabres had great energy throughout the first period. They out skated the Capitals, despite playing the night before.

Chad Johnson had a great game, and it started in the first period. On a power play for the Capitals, Johnson stopped Ovechkin on a point blank opportunity. It wouldn’t be the only time he made a great save on the great eight.

With exactly four minutes to go in the first, Tim Schaller stole the puck his own blue line, and roared down the ice on a breakaway. Schaller beat Holtby high blocker for the shorthanded goal. It was the second goal of Schaller’s career.

The Sabres ended the period up 2-0 and outshooting the Capitals 8-7.

The second period was similar to the first period. The shots were even, but the Sabres got the only goals.

The Sabres got an early power play opportunity after Jack Eichel drew a penalty. Eichel’s first shift of the period was great. He stole the puck at center to get possession for the Sabres, then controlled the puck all over the Washington zone until Washington finally took a penalty. Both power play units for the Sabres generated chances, but couldn’t find the back of the net.

Just over seven minutes into the second, the Sabres took a 3-0 lead. Sam Reinhart made a great play to enter the offensive zone, passed it to O’Reilly, who passed it to Kane, who ripped a wrist shot past Holtby. Barry Trotz pulled Holtby in favor of Philip Grubauer after the goal.

The Sabres added to their lead with a Cody Franson power play goal late in the period. Franson shot the puck off the boards, short side and top shelf to make it 4-0. The shot was really an incredible snipe by Franson.

The Sabres and Capitals tied in shots 15-15 in the period, but the Capitals out-possessed the Sabres in the period.

The third period was cruise control for the Sabres. They gave up the only goal of the period to Marcus Johansson, stripping Chad Johnson of his shut out.

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    • Chad Johnson plays well again

Chad Johnson turned aside 33 of 34 shots to secure the victory for the Sabres. Coming into the game Johnson had a .931 save percentage in his last 16 games. He has really been a nice surprise for the Sabres this year. Johnson was a lowly thought of backup, who has become a decent starter this season. It’ll be interesting to see how many starts he gets vs. Lehner’s starts the rest of the year

    • Don’t healthy scratch Mark Pysyk ever again

Pysyk wasn’t flashy tonight, but he normally isn’t. He made great defensive plays with his stick, made great passes, and smart exits out of his own end. That’s Mark Pysyk. He was paired with Mike Weber for the game, and the two look like a decent pairing. Pysyk played only 15:16 in the game, which is still telling of what the coaching staff thinks of him. They clearly don’t think of him as highly as others do. A big reason for the low ice time, was Pysyk saw no action on special teams.

    • Sabres chased Holtby

No one this year runs Braden Holtby out of his own net this season. No one. Tonight he allowed three goals on 16 shots.  Holtby had not lost a game in regulation in 21 straight starts. He didn’t make it out of the second period against Buffalo. The loss was Holtby’s fifth in 36 starts this season.

    • Sabres win 3 of 4, but still 10 points out of the playoffs
Dr.-Who

This last stretch is a good way to show fans that it is very tough to climb out of a hole to make the playoffs. Despite winning three out of four, the Sabres are 10 points out of the playoffs, and have to climb over six teams. The problem with getting behind is, everyone is playing each other. Most of the teams playing ahead of you are guaranteed to get points because they’re playing each other. This is a good start for the Sabres though. If they can put a really good stretch together here, they could climb back into the hunt at least.

Written by Joe DiBiase

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