BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The second time was the charm for Washington Capitals
defenseman Mike Green
With the Capitals down 3-2 to the Buffalo Sabres
in the third period, Green blasted a shot off the goal post with just over 13 minutes remaining in regulation. When the Capitals pulled goalie Braden Holtby
for the extra attacker in the game's final moments, Green had another opportunity at almost the exact same spot -- in the middle of the ice in front of the Sabres blue line -- and this time his shot rang off the left post, hitting Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth
and into the Buffalo net to tie the game with 39.2 seconds remaining. Alex Ovechkin
and Matt Hendricks then scored in the shootout to lead the Capitals to a 4-3 comeback victory over the Sabres at the First Niagara Center.
"Almost the exact same spot on the ice and shot," Green said. "The first one, I'd seen the whole way, it hit the post and went out and I just came back to the bench and said, 'I wish it would have hit him in the back and went in.' And the second one did, so somebody was listening to me."
With his late equalizer, Green helped make up for a costly mistake earlier in the week in a loss to the New York Islanders. Green was stripped of the puck late against New York Tuesday night, leading to the Islanders' winning goal in a 3-2 defeat.
"We talked a little about it this morning," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "Obviously, a lot of tough luck for him the other night and a very accountable guy. We talked about it, he apologized to me, I know how he feels. Great for him to bounce back."
Green's teammates made no mistake when the game went into the shootout. Hendricks, shooting first for the Capitals, beat Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth on a wrist shot after a strong deke to his forehand. Ovechkin, shooting second, sealed the victory after Buffalo's first two shooters missed.
Defenseman Troy Brouwer jump-started Washington's comeback with a shorthanded goal 2:43 into the third period.
"A big goal by Brouwer and everybody stepped up after that," Ovechkin said. "We kept pushing and pushing."
Ovechkin also scored in regulation for the Capitals, picking up his 17th goal of the season. Holtby had 35 saves for Washington (16-17-1). Ville Leino
scored twice for the Sabres (13-16-6), who blew a two-goal lead. Christian Ehrhoff also scored for Buffalo. Enroth finished with 35 saves.
"It shouldn't happen," Leino said of the loss. "Good teams usually win those games and teams that have success usually end up winning those games."
Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston was left searching for answers following the disappointing loss and had short responses in his session with the media.
"Just keep working day by day, make it better," Rolston said.
The game started out well for Buffalo. Ehrhoff got the Sabres on the board first at 3:01 of the first period with a wrist shot from the left circle. Ehrhoff dug the puck out from a scrum along the boards and skated into the circle for his fourth goal of the season.
Buffalo jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the second period, but Washington quickly answered. Leino put home a rebound in front of the net for his first goal of the year at 1:19 of the second, but Ovechkin got one back for Washington on the power play at 2:21. Ovechkin ripped a wrist shot past Enroth from inside the left circle.
Leino gave the Sabres their two-goal lead back at 10:26 of the second period on the power play. After Tyler Myers' shot from the point struck traffic in front of the net, Leino tucked the loose puck into the net for his second of the game.
But the Capitals kept on coming, mounting the late comeback behind goals from Brouwer and Green. Washington outshot the Sabres 38-23 overall.
With 33 points, the Capitals are two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and are hoping to make a late-season push toward the postseason. The Capitals are on the road against Philadelphia on Sunday.
"This is a huge trip for us," Green said. "We've been playing well on the road lately and we need to continue that."
NOTES: Hours before the game, the Sabres traded defenseman Jordan Leopold to the St. Louis Blues for a second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick. Leopold, 32, is a 10-year veteran who was in the third and final year of his contract with the Sabres. More trades may be on the horizon for the struggling Sabres, general manager Darcy Regier said before the game. "We have to be open to listening to just about anything and everything," Regier said. ... Buffalo leading scorer Thomas Vanek missed the game with an upper-body injury. John Scott was also scratched for the Sabres. ... Aaron Volpatti, Tomas Kundratek and Dmitry Orlov were scratched for the Capitals. ... This was the 143rd game between Buffalo and Washington. Heading into Saturday's game, the Sabres led the series with an 83-43-16 record.
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- Ice Hockey
- Buffalo Sabres
- Washington Capitals
- Alex Ovechkin
- Jhonas Enroth