Ryan Miller made 28 saves and Cody Hodgson scored the deciding shootout goal as the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Washington Capitals for the second time this season 2-1 in a shootout.
Tyler Ennis scored for the Sabres, who snapped their 11-game road losing streak (0-9-2), winning away from First Niagara Center for the first time since Nov. 5.
Jason Chimera scored the Capitals, who had their two-game winning streak stopped, but still at least temporarily reclaimed sole possession of second place in the Metropolitan Division from the Philadelphia Flyers, who face the New York Rangers on Sunday evening.
Philipp Grubauer, starting for the 11th time in Washington’s past 16 games, stopped 30 shots. Miller has now stopped 77 of 79 shots against the Capitals this season, including a 49-save performance in a 2-1 shootout victory Dec. 29.
Washington took a 1-0 lead at 11:01 of the first period on a fortuitous bounce. As Chimera cut towards the net, his centering pass intended for a charging Marcus Johansson ricocheted off Sabres defenseman Brian Flynn’s outstretched stick and past Miller for his eighth goal of the season.
Buffalo tied the game on a late first-period power play, earned when Tom Wilson charged Jamie McBain along the boards. Hodgson, making his return from a left hand injury that sidelined him for eight games, carried the puck into the zone and left it for Matt Moulson near the left point, who then sent a cross-ice pass in the direction of Christian Ehrhoff. With traffic in front, Ehrhoff threw the puck towards Grubauer, and Ennis was able to corral it before beating the Capitals goaltender at 18:09.
Ennis’ ninth goal was just Buffalo’s 12th first-period goal of the season, the lowest total in the League by a significant margin, and the Sabres' first since Dec. 27.
The two teams played a scoreless and sleepy second period – a style of game that favored the more passive Sabres -- as Grubauer and Miller combined to make 17 saves. Buffalo’s 28th-ranked power play failed to score on two opportunities and 1:07 of a third, the rest of which was killed by Washington to start the third period.
While there was a dearth of quality scoring chances in regulation, Miller had to make two impressive saves as the third period came to a close. First, he snagged a Chimera shot with his glove, and then stretched out to make a diving paddle save on Mikhail Grabovski, who had a wide-open net in front.
The Capitals, however, thought that they bested Miller and won the game with 53 seconds left on a goal from Karl Alzner, but before he got the shot off, Nicklas Backstrom tripped Hodgson, negating the goal and putting the Sabres on the power play. Washington killed off the remainder of Backstrom’s penalty in overtime.
Washington plays one more game at Verizon Center on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks before starting a stretch of eight of nine on the road. The Sabres will return home to face the Flyers on Tuesday.
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