BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Thursday’s season opener didn’t go the way the Buffalo Sabres hoped, as the Washington Capitals used a fast start and a strong second period to pull away from Buffalo and pick up the win.
Buffalo’s defense struggled to keep pace with the Capitals all night, allowing two goals in each of the first two periods. Washington needed just 23 shots in the first 40 minutes to put up the four goals.
“I think you saw it in the first ten minutes,” Jake McCabe said. “There was, both sides, there was a lot of turnovers and just kind of some sloppy play which we kind of expected and after a 10-month layoff you knew going into a regular season game it was going to be tough, but as the game went on and the game progressed, we found our game and found our legs a little better and started making a little better plays.”
Washington opened the scoring early in the 1st period when Alex Ovechkin found Nicklas Backstrom for the goal to put the Capitals up 1-0.
Buffalo responded quickly after that with a power play goal. Taylor Hall, one of the newcomers, put one in the back of the net to tie it up.
Less than two minutes later, TJ Oshie took advantage of a Capitals power play after a Rasmus Dahlin penalty. His goal made it 2-1, and that’s how the first period ended.
Washington added two more goals in the second period, first when John Carlson put one pas goaltender Carter Hutton. Later in the period, Brenden Dillon scored to make the deficit three.
Buffalo got a goal from Tobias Rieder, another newcomer, just outside of a minute remaining in the second period. That allowed them to go into the second intermission trailing just 4-2.
They opened the 3rd with a goal to cut the lead to 4-3, but it was answered almost immediately, bringing that deficit back to two. Both teams traded goals from that point forward, and the Sabres fell 6-4.
“I thought it took at least a period and a bit to finally see our legs coming and we did continue to be too complicated through the neutral zone until the third period where we really felt we were getting some momentum, but we gave them one back and too little too late at the end,” head coach Ralph Krueger said.
Eric Staal took a hard hit late in the game and had to leave. No word on his injury yet. Ralph Krueger said he was day-to-day.
Both teams meet again Friday at 7 p.m.