for this game

Ovechkin unstoppable as Capitals top Sabres

Mar 6, 2008 - 4:45 AM
BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- The incomparable Alex Ovechkin seems to be willing the Washington Capitals toward their first playoff berth since 2003.

Ovechkin scored two goals and Olaf Kolzig stopped 25 shots as the Capitals posted a 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday.

Rookie Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and an assist and Viktor Kozlov set up a pair of tallies for Washington (32-28-8), which remained three points behind Carolina (35-29-5) for first place in the Southeast Division.

The Hurricanes posted a 6-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Wednesday.

"The hard part for us is to get in," Kolzig said. "Once we get in, we can be a very dangerous team. We've got a game in hand against Carolina, but we play them head-to-head twice, so that's probably what's it's going to come down to."

The Capitals also climbed within two points of the idle Philadelphia Flyers (33-26-8) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We played hard the whole season," Ovechkin said. "We had the coach change and it changed our system, and it's working. Right now, we feel pretty good. We won this game and we're happy, but it's all about our game. It's all about two points. We're still three points back.

"It's interesting when you play for something. The last two years, we weren't."

Ovechkin, who recorded a hat trick in Monday's 10-2 rout of Boston, set a new career high with a first-period goal and put Washington up, 3-1, with his league-leading 54th of the season with 6:41 left in the third.

With the Capitals clinging to a 2-1 lead, Ovechkin - who also had a pair of assists on Monday - netted the important insurance goal when he skated down the left wing and fired a wrist shot from the faceoff circle that beat goaltender Ryan Miller between the pads.

Before that tally, Backstrom snapped a 1-1 tie with his 11th of the campaign with 6:33 remaining in the second.

Ovechkin opened the scoring with a breakaway goal with 4:39 left in the first.

"I think we gave up five or six breakaways," Buffalo's Jason Pominville said. "Ovechkin had one, Backstrom had one. I thought, overall, we worked hard but just weren't smart enough, and it cost us."

"I thought we played a really solid game and we deserved to win," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "The transition is really difficult because Alex takes off when he thinks the play is turned over. It's a tough play to defend. He sort of ad-libs and knows when to go. The pass (Backstrom) gave him, he just floated it in there. It was a pretty special pass."

But Ales Kotalik knotted the contest at 12:37 of the middle period with a power-play goal off a pass from Pominville.

Just 50 seconds later, however, Kozlov picked up a loose puck and found Backstrom, who slid a backhander past Miller.

There was a bit of controversy late in the third as Buffalo appeared to make it 3-2 when the puck was knocked into the net during a scrum with 2:49 remaining. However, the play was reviewed, and it was ruled the officials had blown the play dead.

"It wasn't a goal," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I watched it, it wasn't. It was the right call. When the whistle went, the puck was on the goal line. It was really close, but it was the right call."

Miller stopped 20 shots for the Sabres (32-27-9), who have lost three of their last four games and remained one point behind the Flyers (33-26-8) in the East.

"There was a lot inside this game," Ruff said. "I thought we played solid. If you look at the goals, it was all from turnovers. We were getting too far ahead of the play. I thought we put a lot of effort in for back-to-back games. Were we smart enough to win? No."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WASHINGTON 1 1 1 3
    BUFFALO 0 1 0 1 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 53 (NICKLAS BACKSTROM, OLAF KOLZIG)
    15:21
    2ND PRD: BUF - (PP) ALES KOTALIK 20 (JASON POMINVILLE, JAROSLAV
    SPACEK) 12:37
    WAS - NICKLAS BACKSTROM 11 (VIKTOR KOZLOV) 13:27
    3RD PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHK

    Mar 5 10:01 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 3
    BUFFALO 1
    3RD PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 54 (VIKTOR KOZLOV, MILAN JURCINA) 13:19

    Capitals 3, Sabres 1  3rd - 6:41Mar 5 9:48 PM
  • 30
    roots
    MetsFan Added 5 roots

    Capitals 2, Sabres 1  End of 2ndMar 5 9:22 PM
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    lpickrell Added 5 roots

    Capitals 2, Sabres 1  End of 2ndMar 5 9:20 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WASHINGTON 1 1 2
    BUFFALO 0 1 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 53 (NICKLAS BACKSTROM, OLAF KOLZIG)
    15:21
    2ND PRD: BUF - (PP) ALES KOTALIK 20 (JASON POMINVILLE, JAROSLAV
    SPACEK) 12:37
    WAS - NICKLAS BACKSTROM 11 (VIKTOR KOZLOV) 13:27
    SHOTS ON GOAL

    Mar 5 9:07 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 2
    BUFFALO 1
    2ND PRD: WAS - NICKLAS BACKSTROM 11 (VIKTOR KOZLOV) 13:27

    Capitals 2, Sabres 1  2nd - 6:33Mar 5 8:56 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 1
    BUFFALO 1
    2ND PRD: BUF - (PP) ALES KOTALIK 20 (JASON POMINVILLE, JAROSLAV
    SPACEK) 12:37

    Capitals 1, Sabres 1  2nd - 7:23Mar 5 8:56 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WASHINGTON 1 1
    BUFFALO 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 53 (NICKLAS BACKSTROM, OLAF KOLZIG)
    15:21
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WAS 7 7
    BUF 8 8
    GOALIES: WAS - OLAF KOLZI

    Mar 5 8:12 PM
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    Capitals 0, Sabres 0  1st - 8:10Mar 5 8:08 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 1
    BUFFALO 0
    1ST PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 53 (NICKLAS BACKSTROM, OLAF KOLZIG) 15:21

    Capitals 1, Sabres 0  1st - 4:39Mar 5 8:07 PM
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    Capitals vs. SabresMar 5 5:46 PM
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    Sensfan4eva Added 5 roots

    Capitals vs. SabresMar 1 11:59 PM
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    dcnationals74 Added 5 roots

    Capitals vs. SabresJan 24 7:50 AM