Listless Capitals fall 4-2 in Buffalo
Sleepless in Seattle? More like listless in Buffalo for the Washington Capitals the day after Christmas.
Buffalo jumped on the Capitals early with four first period goals from Jason Pominville, Matt Ellis, Christian Erhoff and rookie Brayden McNabb's first NHL tally in route to a 4-2 win over the visiting Caps at First Niagara Center.
The Sabres scored just 51 seconds into the first, keying a period that would doom the Caps despite righting the ship in the second and third by pulling within two. Those goals came from Matt Hendricks, his first of the season late in the second, and Alex Ovechkin on a powerplay in the third.
Roman Hamrlik's delay-of-game penalty just 8 seconds into the game led to a Sabres powerplay that resulted in the game's first goal from Pominville, and seemed to set the tone for the team throughout the night.
Despite the lackluster start, goaltender Michal Neuvirth couldn't bail out the guys in front of him, allowing three goals on just six shots before being replaced by Tomas Vokoun after the third goal. Neuvirth had started the past four games, going 2-1-1 in that stretch.
But it wasn't to be for Neuvirth on this night, who didn't get much help, if any, from the team in front of him. There were defensive breakdowns, odd-man rushes galore and a team that looked like it ate too many cookies over the short Christmas break.
One positive was a powerplay goal from Alex Ovechkin nonetheless, who has just three so far this season. Ovechkin ripped a twisted wrist shot past a screened Ryan Miller for his 12th goal of the season.
Another positive was Tomas Vokoun, who stopped 16 of 17 shots in relief of Neuvirth. It was his first game action since being pulled against the Flyers back on the 13th.
But overall, it was a pathetic effort in the first 20 minutes that doomed the Caps, who have struggled all season to put together a solid 60 minutes. It's a puzzle that coach Dale Hunter will have to solve soon or the Caps (36 points, 12th in East) could find themselves on the outside looking in on the playoff picture, something that surely won't please GM George McPhee and Owner Ted Leonsis.
The Caps are back at it against the red-hot New York Rangers, winners of six-straight on Wednesday at Verizon Center in D.C.
The Red has been Rocked. Follow me on Twitter @Duce_90