The Capitals wrapped up their six game, 12 day road trip in Buffalo this afternoon with a new face on the fourth line: Carl Hagelin. Everyone was hoping that his skating ability would inject some speed into the lineup, and boy did he deliver. Unfortunately, the Caps did not. They got themselves into an 0-2 hole after the first period and never recovered. Sloppy play and defensive missteps led to a 5-2 Sabres’ victory.
Here’s Saturday afternoon’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Carl Hagelin looked pretty good today. His speed is impressive, and it makes him fun to watch. He also got some time on the penalty kill, and his skill on the PK is undeniable. He played 12:33 this afternoon, 2:23 of which was on the PK.
Minus: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Capitals took too many penalties this game. The Caps were sent to the box four times, twice for hooking and twice for tripping. The penalty kill went 3-4 tonight, but they can’t always be so effective and the Caps need to be more disciplined.
And now, this…
So the Kuzy sign is back, and it brought a friend pic.twitter.com/3PGlgC9qzm— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 23, 2019
Ten more notes on the game:
1. Buffalo got on the board first with a Jason Pominville goal after good passing sequence from the Sabres and a defensive breakdown by Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen. That pair’s struggles continue, and the Sabres took a 1-0 lead.
2. Nine minutes later, Sam Reinhart capitalized on a broken play in the neutral zone. He snagged the puck and sent a perfectly placed snipe past Holtby for a 2-0 Sabres lead. The Caps couldn’t get one back in the first period and found themselves down by two after 20.
3. 2:28 into the second period, the Caps cut the Sabres’ lead in half with a breakaway goal from...Alex Ovechkin? Yes, you read that right. After a long 90-second shift, he still had enough gas in the tank to finish a breakaway with his 44th goal on the season, extending his goal streak to five games. He’s still got wheels, y’all.
4. Jeff Skinner took a nasty fall after being tripped up by Carl Hagelin, and things looked bad for the Buffalo winger. His left ankle twisted awkwardly underneath him, and he could not put any weight on his leg as he was helped off the ice and down the tunnel. Thankfully, he seemed to be okay when he (somehow) returned for the third period.
5. If it wasn’t for Carter Hutton’s stellar performance in net, the Capitals would definitely have a few more goals on the scoresheet. He made stop after stop, and seemed pretty dialed in.
6. Nic Dowd was called for tripping with 2:16 left in the second, and Rasmus Dahlin cashed in with a power play one-timer with 30 seconds to go. Those late goals are always killer, and this one put the Sabres up 3-1.
7. Just over four minutes into the third, Christian Djoos fired a wicked slap shot from the blue line that was tipped in by fellow Swede Andre Burakovsky. He found the puck with his stick perfectly, bringing the Capitals back within one.
8. The Sabres responded quickly with a tip-in goal of their own when Sam Reinhart tallied his second of the game. The puck bounced past Braden Holtby, and the Sabres
9. With about two and a half minutes left, the Caps pulled Holtby for the extra attacker. However, it was Reinhart who took advantage of the empty net and notched his third career hat trick with 0:55 left on the clock. This is the fifth hat trick against the Capitals this season (others from Viktor Arvidsson, Tomas Hertl, Nazem Kadri, and Jonathan Toews). Sabres win 5-2.
10. The Caps finished their road trip with a 3-3-0 record, and while taking six points home is certainly a victory in the crowded Metro Division, this loss was not the way they wanted the road trip to end.
The Capitals return home tomorrow to face the New York Rangers in another matinee game, in which the newly acquired Nick Jensen is scheduled to make his Caps debut. After today, it feels like Jensen can’t get into the lineup fast enough.