WASHINGTON – The Buffalo Sabres had the lead to start their game Saturday night, but the Washington Capitals took it away quickly and didn’t look back.
Johan Larsson opened the scoring with his second of the year 2:35 into the game. Then Curtis Glencross tallied at the 5:15 mark to tie it. It all really came apart in the second period as Washington scored three times on 23 shots, chasing starter Matt Hackett from the net.
Jay Beagle, Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich scored those second-period goals for Washington, with Laich’s goal being the one that brought Anders Lindback into the game for Buffalo. Joel Ward and Calle Johansson scored in the third as the Capitals won 6-1 at Verizon Center.
“I felt our fatigue really clicked in in the third period,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “We just didn’t seem to have any kind of legs underneath us and they took advantage.”
Hackett finished the game with 19 saves on 23 shots in 33:53 of action. He had been recalled in the morning from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League and arrived in Washington at around 8 a.m. His call-up was necessary because Chad Johnson sustained a lower-body injury at Friday’s morning skate that will likely keep out for the year.
The third goal, scored on the power play by Ovechkin, was one Hackett said he wanted back. Ovechkin, on the left halfwall, held the puck, looked off to pass but then wristed a shot in.
“I saw him open up a little bit. I bit on it and I looked stupid on it,” Hackett said. “That’s why he’s got 40-something goals, right? He’s a very special player, but there’s no excuse. I’ve got to step up. That’s not a good goal.”
Lindback started Friday’s 3-2 loss in Ottawa, making 34 saves and then made six saves in the second period in relief against Washington, including a great glove save on Marcus Johansson and subsequently smothered a shot by Ovechkin on the rebound. He also stopped a penalty-shot attempt by Ovechkin with 38.8 seconds remaining.
Lindback’s streak of consecutive stops didn’t last long as Ward made it 5-1 on the power play 3:41 into the third. He finished the game with 20 saves.
BEAT DOWN BLUE LINE
Buffalo lost two defensemen over the course of the game.
Andrej Meszaros gloved down a puck early in the first period and did not return to the game with an upper-body injury.
The Sabres were then without Zach Bogosian 2:38 into the third due to an upper-body injury. Forward Nicolas Deslauriers filled in on defense, particularly when Mike Weber was in the box for fighting and the Sabres were down to three defensemen.
Nolan said they’ll wait to have Meszaros and Bogosian checked out by doctors in Buffalo before putting a definite timetable on their injuries. They could both potentially miss a few games.
“We’re down in numbers here,” Nolan said. “Nic Deslauriers, thank God he’s got a little defensive background, so he went back and did the best he could too.”
Buffalo has only 16 games remaining in the season and Saturday’s lineup featured seven players, including all four centers, who have spent a majority of the season with the Amerks.
A new mask Hackett brought on the trip generated some buzz on social media. Hackett said he had the mask made last year, but no one knew about it because he hadn’t worn it.
However, it’s not one anybody will see in game action any time soon.
“Unfortunately it’s not my size so I can’t wear it in a game. I’m sure all of Buffalo’s going to be mad. I’m sorry, but I can’t wear it,” he said before the game.
“We’ll try and remodel it so it fits me next time. It’s a good mask. It’s pretty cool to have famous Buffalo athletes on there. It’s an idea I had last year and it came together pretty good.”
The Sabres are in Toronto on Wednesday to wrap up a stretch of five-straight road games. The Tops Game Night pregame show begins at 6:30 p.m. on MSG-B and Bell with faceoff scheduled for 7 p.m. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.