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game recap

Jakub Vrana scores first NHL goal in win for Capitals

Rookie forward helps Washington to third straight victory, defeat Sabres

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

BUFFALO -- Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal, which turned out to be the game-winner when the Washington Capitals defeated the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 at KeyBank Center on Friday.

Vrana's goal with 7:21 remaining in the second period gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead. With Sabres defenseman Dmitry Kulikov off on a hooking penalty, Vrana received a pass in front of the net from Evgeny Kuznetsov and put the puck past goalie Robin Lehner.

"The guys were really excited for Jake," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "Getting his first in this League is pretty special. It was great. ... Jake went to the paint and found that puck and when he finds that puck in close, he's pretty good."

The Capitals (16-7-3) have won three straight games. The Sabres (10-11-6) have lost three of the past four games.


WATCH: All Capitals vs. Sabres highlights


T.J. Oshie gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 6:43 into the second period. Oshie received a pass out of the corner from Jay Beagle and put a shot over the glove of Lehner for his ninth goal of the season.

"I yelled for it and [Beagle] heard me because he kind of threw it to an area and made a great play and I just tried to get to the far side and found a way in," Oshie said. "It was a great play by [Beagle] and it starts with getting the puck deep, though as you'll see with a lot of our goals and a lot of our extended o-zone time, is getting pucks in there."

It was Oshie's first goal since he returned on Wednesday after missing seven games because of an upper-body injury. Oshie also had an assist on Marcus Johansson's empty net goal with 1:12 left in the third period that made it 4-1.

The Sabres got to within 2-1 when Kyle Okposo scored a power-play goal with 7:57 left in the third period. Okposo put a rebound of a Rasmus Ristolainen shot past Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer for his ninth goal of the season, but Capitals defenseman John Carlson scored a power-play goal 2:17 later for his first goal of the season and a 3-1 lead.

Video: WSH@BUF: Okposo tips in loose puck past Grubauer

"We were able to draw a penalty and that's where you can take the game right back," Trotz said. "You can just see once we scored that goal their bench sort of gets deflated again. That's owning a big moment for sure."

The Capitals went 2-for-3 on the power play.

"The special teams part of it is frustrating," Sabres defenseman Cody Franson said. "You give teams like Washington chances on the power play, they did a good a job for the most part, but the small chances we did give them they were able to capitalize."

Grubauer made 27 saves; Lehner made 25 saves.


Goal of the game

Oshie showed good hands with his goal that came off a good wrist shot in close.

Video: WSH@BUF: Oshie beats Lehner off Beagle's nifty pass


Save of the game

With 2:15 left in the first period, Lehner lunged across the crease and made a glove save against Tom Wilson.

Video: WSH@BUF: Lehner robs Wilson on the doorstep in 1st


Highlight of the game

Vrana's goal was set up from a pass from Kuznetsov, who waited for just the right time before sending it to Vrana in front of the net.

Video: WSH@BUF: Kuznetsov sets up Vrana for first NHL goal


Unsung performance of the game

Backstrom missed the final 8:01 of the first period after he was nicked up, Trotz said. When he returned to start the second period, he assisted on the goals by Oshie and Carlson.

Video: WSH@BUF: Carlson fires home bouncing puck for PPG


They said it

"They're almost like little playoff series. Every game, because we're in the same conference, they're four-point games. We've just got to collect points. I always tell the guys, just collect points, collect points every week and at the end of the year let's look up and see how many we can get. I think every team goes through these short little series, I know we have another one with New Jersey right around the Christmas break there. Those are important because they're like a little playoff mini-series." -- Capitals coach Barry Trotz


"It's lack of execution and puck management really is what it comes down to. When we turn over pucks and we try to go up and down with these teams that are skilled like Washington, that's not our brand of hockey. We grind teams down in our offensive zone. We're not a rush team." -- Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe


Need to know

Sabres forward Nicolas Deslauriers returned to the lineup after missing the past 19 games with a knee injury. He replaced center Derek Grant who was sick. … Kulikov and Josh Gorges also returned to the lineup after injuries. Kulikov missed the past 13 games with a lower back injury and Gorges missed the past three games with a non-displaced fracture in his foot.


What's next

Capitals: Host the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, SNP, NHL.TV)

Sabres: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, FS-W, NHL.TV)

Video: Vrana tallies first NHL goal in 4-1 win over Sabres

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