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game recap

Eichel, power play lift Sabres past Capitals

Scores deciding goal in shootout, Buffalo gets three with man-advantage; Vanecek makes 45 saves for Washington

by Harvey Valentine / Independent Correspondent

Eichel's shootout goal

BUF@WSH: Eichel roofs puck over Vanecek in shootout

Jack Eichel skates in and lifts the puck top shelf to beat Vitek Vanecek in Round 1 of the shootout

  • 00:18 •

WASHINGTON -- Linus Ullmark made 28 saves through overtime and three more in the shootout to help the Buffalo Sabres defeat the Washington Capitals 4-3 at Capital One Arena on Sunday.

The Capitals played their second game without forwards Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, defenseman Dmitry Orlov, and goalie Ilya Samsonov, who each will be out at least four games in accordance with NHL COVID-19 protocols.

Colin Miller, Victor Olofsson and Eric Staal each scored a power-play goal, and Jack Eichel scored the only goal in the shootout for the Sabres (2-3-1), who lost to the Capitals 4-3 in a shootout Friday.

"It wasn't necessarily what I would call a solid or pretty win, but it was an extremely important one," Buffalo coach Ralph Krueger said. "We had to dig down a few times again after disappointment and found a way, which it could be we come out of this stronger than if this win today would've been an easy one." 

Ullmark made the save on Nicklas Backstrom on a breakaway with 45 seconds remaining in overtime. It was his second game back after missing two games following the death of his father.

"It's been rough," Ullmark said. "There's a lot of emotions, thoughts that had to be processed. Trying to take it day by day. Trying to be happy when I'm happy, trying to be sad when I'm sad. Right now, I'm utterly grateful for getting a win."

Backstrom and Justin Schultz each had a goal and an assist for Washington (3-0-3). T.J. Oshie scored, and Vitek Vanecek made 45 saves.

Video: BUF@WSH: Oshie shows hand-eye coordination for PPG

"We got to the overtime, I thought we had three real good chances to win the hockey game, and we didn't put it away," Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. "So you talk about leaving a point. That is what stings for me, is like, the game unfolded, we end up in overtime, and we had chances to win that."

Staal gave the Sabres a 3-2 lead with a one-timer from the right face-off circle at 7:24 of the third, but Backstrom tied the game 3-3 when he banked a shot in off Ullmark from behind the goal line on the power play at 9:28.

Oshie deflected a Schultz shot on the power play to give Washington a 2-1 lead at 11:51 of the second, but Olofsson scored with a one-timer off a cross-ice pass from Sam Reinhart to tie it 2-2 at 13:04.

Schultz gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead at 6:58 of the first period when his screened shot from the right point got between Ullmark's pads. It was his first goal with the Capitals after signing a two-year contract Oct. 9.

Miller scored on slap shot from the center point at 10:07 of the second period to tie the game 1-1.

Buffalo went 3-for-5 on the power play after entering the game 3-for-17.

Video: BUF@WSH: Miller hammers home a power-play goal

"I think we were all on the same page," Eichel said. "We converged on the net well, finished on some chances. Special teams are a big part of this league and we harped on it after the last game (after going 0-for 2). It's going to be a big weapon for us."

Forward Connor McMichael, the No. 25 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, replaced Tom Wilson (lower body) in the lineup and made his NHL debut. He had one shot on goal in 9:54 of ice time.

"Obviously, this is what you work for your whole life and, obviously, a little bit of nerves," McMichael said, "but I thought I had a good game, and I had a lot of fun." 

The Capitals had won the first three games against the Sabres this season, and nine straight home games against them dating to March 3, 2015. It was the longest active home winning streak against one opponent in the NHL.

NOTES: Sabres forward Kyle Okposo played 13:43 in his season debut after missing five games because of a lower-body injury. … Buffalo forward Casey Mittelstadt, recalled from the taxi squad, played 10:02 in his season debut and had an assist. … Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk played 14:14 in his Capitals debut and had one blocked shot. … Wilson, who left the game early in the third period on Friday, is day to day. … Backstrom played in his 962nd game, passing Peter Bondra for third most in Capitals history.

Video: Eichel, Sabres top Capitals in shootout, 4-3 

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