BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's been over 120 minutes on the ice since the Sabres have scored a goal. The Washington Capitals trounced Buffalo 6-0 on Monday night at KeyBank Center. Vitek Vanecek made 23 saves in the win.
Alex Ovechkin's lone goal in the contest was the 717th of his career; he's tied with Phil Esposito for the sixth most goals in NHL history. Buffalo hits the road to play the New Jersey Devils tomorrow night.
Five observations from Monday's game:
Which would you rather?
Both of these types of goals seem to plague the Sabres. There's the late-period goal against that visibly deflates the team and takes all the wind out of their sails. Then, no matter when it occurs, there's the goal that causes a complete collapse from top to bottom for Buffalo.
So which would you rather? Tonight, the answer was, simply, yes.
A shot with horrible angle off the half boards from Evgeny Kuznetsov put Washington on the board just before the end of the first period. Despite getting dominated by Washington, they almost came away unscathed after 20 minutes. Then the wheels fell completely off for the Sabres.
Stop me if you've heard this one before...
Three words: in all alone. It's certainly a byproduct of the Sabres being unable to get out of their own way. It also has to do with abysmal puck management in the neutral zone. But there were countless times that a Capital was just on an island with Carter Hutton.
T.J. Oshie's first period chance was a little lazy. Alex Ovechkin's best chance of the night was saved by a hook from Rasmus Dahlin. Ovi had already cooked Buffalo's prodigal blue-liner. But Wahsington cashed in plenty on opportunities handed to them by the Sabres in the second period.
Can't fault the goaltending
Carter Hutton is serviceable at best. There's no denying that. Linus Ullmark shows flashes of being an elite goalie, but those are too far and few between. Plus, he's been out for weeks. And for the role he's supposed to play, Joonas Johansson holds his own.
But when Buffalo is getting peppered night in and night out, and egregiously out-possessed, there's only sso much they can do. How many breakaway saves is Carter Hutton expected to make? How many cross-crease saves are required when the back door is wide open? They might not be solutions, but what's in front of them is the problem.
As if getting dominated on the scoreboard, in shot totals, and in possession time wasn't bad enough, the Sabres' best chance was squandered. Jeff Skinner brought it down the right wing as Casey Mittelstadt headed to the net.
Both of them were all alone, and another Sabre wasn't far behind. What transpired next might encapsulate the last four weeks of hockey perfectly...
Jeff Skinner missed the net.
Empty for the final time
Head coach Ralph Krueger boasted about a top-ten record in 2019-20 at home. He also expanded upon the energy that fans bring to KeyBank Center and how much he's missed it. The next time Buffalo plays at home, they have a chance to prove it.
Front-line workers and their guests will make up a crowd of fans on Thursday's game against the Boston Bruins. Saturday will offer the first chance for Sabres fans to buy tickets. There's so much more missing from this team. But maybe a jolt from real fans, instead of ambient fan noise, can help make a difference.