Defensemen Justin Schultz and Brenden Dillon combined for two goals with three assists as the visiting Washington Capitals recorded a needed 4-3 win by continuing their season dominance over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.
Alex Ovechkin scored his 21st of the season, Jakub Vrana snapped a 13-game goal drought and rookie Vitek Vanecek (5-0-1 versus Buffalo this season) made 30 saves for the Capitals, who pulled into a tie atop the East Division despite having lost two straight and four of six entering this contest.
Once again, though, this matchup proved to bring out some strong play in Washington, which is 6-0-1 against the Sabres this season and won all four meetings in Buffalo.
Henri Jokiharju and Casey Mittelstadt each scored, and Tage Thompson’s goal with 1:20 left in the game made things interesting for the Sabres, but they ended up losing for a second straight game following their 3-0-1 stretch.
Dustin Tokarski stopped 29 shots in his fourth start for Buffalo this season.
It was just 2:39 into the game when Dillon, who added an assist for his second multi-point game of 2020-21, one-timed a pass from Schultz at the point to give Washington the early 1-0 lead. The Capitals made it 2-0 with 8:21 left in the opening period when Ovechkin threw the puck toward the net, then deflected it in off the leg of Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, for career goal 727.
However, Dahlin redeemed himself when he set up Jokiharju’s successful wrister that made it a 2-1 contest with 1:34 left before the first intermission.
Washington, though, regained its two-goal edge just 28 seconds into the middle period with a blast from Schultz. But, the Sabres again made it a one-goal game. This time through Mittelstadt, who took a pass into the slot from Rasmus Asplund, then went backhand-forehand to beat Vanecek top-shelf to make it 3-2 with 9:52 left in the middle frame.
On an assist from Schultz, Vrana drove the puck from near top of the circle and by Tokarski with 10:12 left in regulation for his 11th goal of the season.
–Field Level Media