Vanek goal gives Sabres OT win
Thomas Vanek scored his second goal of the game with a minute
left in overtime to provide the Buffalo Sabres their first home win
of the season in beating the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Saturday
Steve Montador also scored, while Ryan Miller stopped 23 shots
in his first game after missing six with a hip injury. Jordan
Leopold added three assists for Buffalo, which became the NHL’s
final team to win a home game this season, improving to 1-6-1.
Nicklas Backstrom and Karl Alzner scored for the Capitals, who
had a six-game win streak snapped.
Vanek scored on a great individual effort, driving through the
middle and getting around Capitals defenseman John Carlson. He then
faked a forehand shot before backhanding the puck in behind rookie
The Sabres’ bench erupted in celebration and then smothered
Vanek on the ice. Buffalo (6-9-3) is also starting to heat up,
having registered at least a point in each of its past four games
(3-0-1) – a stretch in which all games have been decided in
overtime or in a shootout.
After Alzner opened the scoring in 8 minutes in, the Sabres
responded to take the lead by scoring twice in the second
Montador tied it at 1 midway through the period, when his shot
from the right point glanced in off the post and past Holtby, who
was screened by Buffalo’s Cody McCormick.
Vanek then scored the go-ahead goal a little over six minutes
later, when Leopold’s shot from the point caromed off two Capitals
defenders and settled to the right of the net, where Vanek swept it
into the open side. It was the Sabres’ first power-play goal in 18
chances, and scored 24 seconds after Washington’s Tomas Fleischmann
was penalized for high-sticking Tyler Ennis.
The Capitals tied it 7 minutes into the third when Backstrom
lifted a shot from the slot that sneaked in just inside the
But Miller didn’t look at all rusty in playing his first game in
two weeks. His biggest save came on getting his left pad out to
foil Alex Ovechkin attempting to stuff the puck inside the post on
a clear-cut breakaway 15 minutes into the first period. Ovechkin
failed to register a point to end an eight-game streak, in which he
had five goals and 10 assists.
Miller also made two solid saves on bang-bang chances in the
final minute of the opening period, first stopping Tyler Sloan’s
point shot, and then getting across to hug the right post to
prevent Marcus Johansson’s shot from a bad angle.
And then, after being thoroughly outplayed in the first period
when the Capitals outshot them 13-6, the Sabres found their legs in
Even still, the Sabres’ power play struggled, failing to convert
a pair of 4-minute advantages, including a double-minor called
against Backstrom for high-sticking with 2:54 remaining in
NOTES: Capitals RW Alexander Semin extended his points streak to
seven games with an assist on Karl Alzner’s opening goal. It also
marked Semin’s first point in seven games at Buffalo. … Prior to
the game, the Sabres honored RW Mike Grier for playing in his
1,00th career game on Nov. 3. … Capitals RW Boyd Gordon did not
play, and will miss about a week after taking a shot to the leg
during a 6-3 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday. The Capitals were also
without D Tom Poti, who has an undisclosed injury. Poti had missed
eight games with a lower body injury, before returning to the
lineup – and scoring a goal – against Tampa Bay. … Johansson
returned after missing nine games with a hip flexor for the