Rapid Rewind: Blasted in Buffalo. Sabres 5, Capitals 1

BUFFALO – The Washington Capitals lost their second consecutive game on Saturday night, falling 5-1 inside First Niagara Center.  Jason Chimera scored the lone Caps goal on a penalty shot in a game that Washington was thoroughly dominated in from start to finish and never had a chance in.  Is this rock bottom?  It could be close.

The Capitals got off to another poor start in this game, as Jeff Schultz was called for a penalty less than three minutes in.  Washington’s penalty kill was poor in terms of preventing pressure, but Tomas Vokoun bailed his mates out with a few very good saves to keep the score tied.  Buffalo, however, kept their visitors on their heels with constant pressure, and eventually forced a mistake by Dennis Wideman along the boards that led to a Buffalo goal when Luke Adam potted a deflection from the corner halfway through the frame.

Buffalo continued to carry the play towards their visitors as the period continued past the ten minute mark.  The Sabres constantly had the Caps pinned in their own zone, and Washington was unable to break the pressure for any stretch.  Eventually, the hosts’ pressure was too great, and after Tomas Vokoun failed to catch a point drive from Christian Ehrhoff, Jason Pominville was there to collect the garbage and double the Sabres’ lead heading into the first intermission.

As poor as their pressure was to open the first period, the Caps were able to establish a forecheck to start the middle stanza.  Washington eventually earned a power play out of all of their pressure when Alex Ovechkin was slashed on a rush in the slot, but were unable to convert.  But Jason Chimera took matters into his own hands following the failed power play, using his speed to generate a penalty shot after he was hauled down while in the clear.  Chimera made no mistake with his free shot, ripping it into the top corner to cut the deficit to one.

Read on.

But the Sabres kept coming.  Buffalo was able to immediately re-extend their lead a little more than 30 seconds later with a tally off the stick of Zack Kassian; it was an extremely weak goal allowed by Tomas Vokoun.  Washington was given a chance to get back into the game with a power play after Paul Gaustad was sent off for a hook, but Nicklas Backstrom promptly negated the man advantage with a bad hit behind the net.  Neither team was able to score while at four-on-four, and the period closed with Buffalo still ahead by two.

Desperately needing a spark heading into the third period, the Capitals let the Sabres walk all over them in the opening 60 seconds and paid the price once more when Luke Adam ripped one past Vokoun to extend the lead to three at 1:12.  The Capitals attempted to pick it up and salvage some dignity as the period wore on, but Buffalo continued to dominate them in every facet of the game past the midway mark of the period, completely eliminating any chance they had to mount a comeback.

During a late power play that gave the Caps a chance to salvage some dignity, Jochen Hecht stole the puck away from Alex Ovechkin at the attacking blue line and broke in alone on Vokoun, sniping the puck underneath Vokoun’s armpit to extend the lead to four.  The rest of the game passed without incident, and the Caps lost 5-1.

Observations:

 Something has got to change.  Fire the coach, make a big trade, do something.  This is getting to be ridiculous.  The Sabres were missing NINE regulars tonight, including their all-world goaltender and several of their top forwards.  So in other words, the Caps lost to the Rochester Americans tonight.  Lovely.

Tomas Vokoun – figure it out, bro.  Three goals or more in three consecutive starts and six of your last eight?  Like I realize McPhee signed you way below market value but don’t play like a $1.5 million goalie just because you’re being paid that little money.  You’re one of the best goalies in the league.  Play like it.

Another night firmly in the red (-4) and pointless for Alex Ovechkin.  Ho-hum.  Back to the drawing board.

The Capitals will likely practice Sunday afternoon before welcoming the Blues to Verizon Center on Tuesday night.  That game is scheduled for 7 PM.

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