Centers of Attention: Capitals 2, Sabres 1

Capitals’ rookie centers Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault have had to endure a lot of talk in the past few weeks about the Capitals’ need for an experienced #2 center.  They have silenced those voices for one day, at least, as they provided all the offense in a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Hockey Day in America

After four fruitless powerplays in the first period, Perreault scored 6 minutes into the second period on a bit of a fluky play. Sabres goalie Ryan Miller left the crease as Matt Hendricks dumped the puck into the Buffalo zone along the glass.  Perreault was driving to the net when the puck hit a stanchion and bounced right to Perreault, who buried it.  Jason Pominville responded for the Sabres on the powerplay about 3 minutes later.  With Scott Hannan screening Semyon Varlomov, Pominville fired a a slapshot over Varlamov’s shoulder. 

Courtesy NHL.com

The Capitals needed a goal heading into the third period, and the rookies stepped up again.  When former Capital Shaone Morrisonn went off for interference midway through the period, the Capitals’ moribund powerplay struck.  A rebound of an Alex Ovechkin shot bounced to Perreault, who quickly put the puck on net.  The puck bounced off Marcus Johansson on its way in, and that would be all the offense the Caps needed.  The goal was Johansson’s first career powerplay goal and his first game-winning goal. 

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Courtesy NHL.com

The Good:  The Caps powerplay scored a goal.  It was a goal off a rebound, deflected in, with players crashing the net.  I was exactly the kind of goal the powerplay unit needed to wake a sleeping giant.  If the Caps can maintain their shooting pace (12 shots on 5 attempts), they should keep up the scoring. 

The Bad:  Not much in this game.  The Caps played solid defense, took few penalties, and got great goaltending.  With 39 shots on goal, they got good, consistent pressure against a great goalie and took him out of the game with great net-crashing. 

The Ugly:  NBC decided to show the Rangers/Flyers game instead of the Capitals/Sabres game in West Virginia, where I am.  Fortunately they showed the game live on their website. 

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