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game recap

Philipp Grubauer gets special win for Capitals

With parents in attendance for first time, goalie makes 32 saves against Sabres

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Goaltender Philipp Grubauer made his 25th birthday memorable with 32 saves for the Washington Capitals in a 3-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center on Friday.

It was a special win for Grubauer, the Capitals backup goaltender, because his father, Peter, and mother, Susi, were visiting from Germany and saw him play in an NHL game in person for the first time.

"I'm glad they saw me play and they saw me get the win," Grubauer said. "It's even more important for us to get those two points."

 

WATCH: All Sabres vs. Capitals highlights

 

The Capitals (13-5-2) completed their five-game homestand 4-1-0. The Sabres (7-9-5) lost their second in a row (0-1-1).

The Capitals went 1-for-4 on the power play, including Brett Connolly's rebound goal that increased their lead to 3-1 with 3:55 remaining in the third period.

The Sabres pulled within 2-1 on Sam Reinhart's even-strength goal from the left circle 9:58 into the third period but couldn't score when they had a chance to tie it during Andre Burakovsky's delay of game penalty at 12:07. Buffalo was 0-for-4 on the power play.

"We've got to score on one of those," Sabres right wing Kyle Okposo said. "We had a lot of opportunities and some good puck movement, but we've got to find a way to get that in the net."

Grubauer made seven saves while the Capitals were shorthanded.

"He just made a lot saves look kind of routine," Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. "He was just blocking pucks."

The Capitals took a 1-0 lead 5:08 into the first period on Daniel Winnik's third goal of the season. Sabres goalie Anders Nilsson (29 saves) made a pad save on Lars Eller's shot from the bottom of the left circle but left a rebound in front that Connolly flubbed before the puck squirted to Winnik on the right side.

Marcus Johansson beat Nilsson on the blocker side from between the circles with 6:35 remaining in the second period to increase the lead to 2-0.

 
Goal of the game

The Capitals scored after a Sabres too many men penalty when Connolly knocked in the rebound of Alex Ovechkin's left-circle shot. Nilsson was stunned after Ovechkin's shot hit him in the mask, leaving Connolly with a near-empty net.

"It was good karma," Connolly said. "That one just landed on my stick and we got the win."

Video: BUF@WSH: Connolly pads lead with rebound PPG

 

Save of the game

Grubauer kicked out his right pad to stop Reinhart's backhand on the rebound of Rasmus Ristolainen's left-point shot on the power play with 12:41 left in the third period.

Video: BUF@WSH: Grubauer makes quick saves on a power play

 

Unsung moment of the game

With the Capitals leading 2-0, Grubauer left a rebound in front off Derek Grant's shot from the bottom of the left circle, but defenseman Brooks Orpik was there to tie up Sabres forward Matt Moulson and prevent him from getting off a shot.

 

Highlight of the game

After skating in against Sabres defenseman Cody Franson on the left wing, Capitals rookie Zach Sanford put the puck between Franson's skates before cutting to the net and pulling the puck to his backhand. Nilsson prevented Sanford from scoring his first NHL goal by reaching up with his catching glove for the save with 5:56 left in the first period.

Video: BUF@WSH: Nilsson flashes leather to rob Sanford

 

They said it

"It's frustrating. Scoring goals again is the problem and that's my job and I'm not doing it right now." -- Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly

 

"They're a team that puts a lot of pressure up top. They put a lot of pressure with their forwards, and when we were able to move the puck around we got opportunities to score and we got opportunities on the last one again. We had probably more than handful of scoring chances but nothing to show for it." -- Sabres coach Dan Bylsma on the power play

 

"I thought we had lots of commitment. Our special teams were big in this game. I thought Buffalo played well defensively. They didn't give you much and we didn't give them much. It was a grind." -- Capitals coach Barry Trotz

 

"He deserved that. I think every game he's played for us he's been playing really well and gave us a chance every night and he did that again. …  To get that win on his birthday too is good for him." -- Capitals left wing Marcus Johansson on goaltender Philipp Grubauer

 

Need to know

The Capitals have scored first in 17 of their 20 games. … Sabres center Jack Eichel, who is working his way back from a high ankle sprain sustained in practice Oct. 12, skated on his own in Buffalo. … With right wing T. J. Oshie (upper body) out, the Capitals recalled Paul Carey to have an extra forward with them for their road game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

 

What's next

Sabres: At the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; RDS2, TSN5, MSG-B, NHL.TV).

Capitals: At the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday (7 p.m. ET: NHLN, CBC, CSN-DC+, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Connolly, Winnik lead offense in 3-1 win

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