Apr 2, 2011, 10:05 PM EDT
Even with some key defensemen out with injuries, the Washington Capitals are clearly peaking at the right time. In fact, after some ups and downs during a transitional 2010-11 season, Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals now find themselves in first place in the Eastern Conference.
For at least one night, that is.
Ovechkin provided a jubilant victory dance after he shot the overtime game-winner through Buffalo Sabres backup goalie Jhonas Enroth, who might have to turn around and play again tomorrow in a big game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
It looked like this game might be ugly, as the Capitals raced to an early 2-0 lead before the five minute mark. Yet the Sabres showed another sign of their consistent resilience this season, as Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford tied it up within five more minutes. That’s how the first period would end.
After a score-less middle frame, Paul Gaustad gave Buffalo a 3-2 lead and then the two teams’ power play units took over. Mike Knuble tied it up on a Washington PP, Stafford scored his second goal of the night on a Buffalo man advantage and then Jason Arnott sent it into overtime on the power play as well. Ovechkin then sent a shot that bounced off of two Buffalo players, then into the Sabres’ net to earn Washington what could be a key extra point. Both Knuble and Stafford produced two-goal games for their respective teams.
This gives Ovechkin “only” 30 goals on the season, as the flashy Russian’s numbers took a bit of a dive but his joy for the game never left. He’s been looking more and more like the Ovechkin of previous, all-world seasons lately, so it makes sense that the Capitals are back on their familiar perch atop the East.
We’ll give you the rundown of how this contest – and plenty of other Saturday games – will affect the Eastern Conference playoff picture in the next post.
- Agent: Subban hasn’t told me to make him NHL’s highest-paid D 23
- Devils sign Greene to five-year, $25M extension 16
- Subban seeking $8.5 million in arbitration, versus the Habs at $5.25 million 44
- Marchand on Plekanec: ‘I hate him. I can’t stand him’ 55
- Gettin’ paid: Gardiner inks five-year, $20.25M extension with Leafs 15
- Report: Trottier to join Sabres’ coaching staff 21
- Blues sign former eighth overall pick Mueller 31
- Trotz plans to let Johansson, Kuznetsov, and Burakovsky compete for time at center 45
- Eric Staal has surgery to repair ‘core muscle injury’ 6
- After not seeing ‘eye-to-eye’ with Carlyle, Reimer will compete for No. 1 gig 16
- Cashing in: Rangers sign Brassard to five-year, $25 million deal (63)
- Marchand on Plekanec: ‘I hate him. I can’t stand him’ (55)
- Subban seeking $8.5 million in arbitration, versus the Habs at $5.25 million (45)
- Trotz plans to let Johansson, Kuznetsov, and Burakovsky compete for time at center (45)
- Richards: If not for the cap, half the league would want to play for Hawks (36)