Capitals nab first win from Sabres; Oates’ first NHL victory as head coach
(Photo via Nick Wass/AP)
The NHL regular season started January 19, but the Washington Capitals waited eight days to earn their first win. After dropping their first three games to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Winnipeg Jets, and Montreal Canadiens, the Caps took the New Jersey Devils to OT, only to be done in by a Kovalchuk slapper.
But Sunday, the Capitals managed to take the positivity they gained Friday and channel it into a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Joel Ward started the scoring for the Caps in the first period, his third goal of the season, half of the six he scored last season. Ward also recorded an assist on John Erskine’s tally in the second period. He is the current team leader in goals scored, with three.
Center Mike Ribiero has been a great addition to the Capitals squad this year. He recorded two assists and had a couple of nice scoring chances. There were a few times Ribiero should have shot the puck instead of passing, but his contributions have been nothing but positive. Jason Chimera, linemates with Ribiero, also finished with two assists.
The highlight of the evening was Alex Ovechkin (who is back playing left wing) finally scoring his first goal of the season during a power play early in the third period on a lovely pass by Mike Green, who is looking better than ever these days. It was a testament to just how good this team can look when things come together. Moving Ovechkin back to the left wing likely took off a bit of pressure from him, allowing him to focus on doing the right things instead of drifting out of position. Ovechkin was paired with Troy Brouwer and Nicklas Backstrom most of the game, and gave credit to them for his success.
“I think it’s more [about being prepared] mentally and the guys getting in shape. When you’re in shape, you have more power and more physicality. I think our line – me and Brouwsy [Troy Brouwer] can hit," said Ovechkin.
Michal Neuvirth got the start, and came up with some big saves when it counted. But the Caps don't have time to rest on this success for very long.
“Finally we got the win, and that is all that matters," said Neuvirth. "We are extremely happy, but tomorrow is another day and another game on Tuesday and we’ve got to be ready."
The 3-2 win was the first NHL victory for head coach Adam Oates.
Ovechkin stood in the team tunnel after the game and bumped fists with each of his teammates as they left the ice, grinning from ear to ear. He looked relieved and cheerful – and as we know, a happy Ovechkin is the best kind of Ovechkin.