Sabres
Capitals
5 - 4 Final - OT
  for this game

Pominville nets OT winner, but Caps clinch Southeast

Apr 4, 2009 - 3:18 AM
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A year ago, at the culmination of a long trek up the standings, the Washington Capitals reveled when they finished atop the Southeast Division by winning their 82nd game, hugging and jumping and yelling with delight.

There was no such celebration to mark their second consecutive title. No, this time, Washington's players quietly shuffled off to the locker room, some with heads bowed, after clinching the division despite losing to the Buffalo Sabres, 5-4, in overtime Friday night.

Maybe it's tough to get too excited after any defeat.

Maybe it's the way Washington lost, blowing three leads.

And maybe it's because these Capitals, led by Alex Ovechkin, have bigger things in mind.

"Before the season started, we said we were going to win, and we have one goal in mind," coach Bruce Boudreau said, "and we aren't there yet."

Which is why his players weren't nearly as excited as the sellout crowd of 18,277 was at the end of regulation, when the tied score meant Washington had earned at least one standings point. That was enough to give the Capitals a nine-point cushion ahead of second-place Carolina, which has four games left.

"You know what? It's an accomplishment, but it's an accomplishment we thought was going to happen," Boudreau said. "I mean, let's face it, Carolina would have to win 12 in a row and we'd have to lose all of our games. It would be a monumental collapse."

So the fans rose and applauded as "Washington Capitals, 2008-2009 Southeast Division Champions" was displayed on the above-ice video board and U2's "Beautiful Day" blared over the arena loudspeakers.

But the players drank water or caught their breath by leaning against the boards.

And then they went out and were beaten 1:51 into the extra session, when Sergei Fedorov - who scored two goals in the second period - turned over the puck, leading to Jason Pominville's breakaway goal.

"We've got to get smarter to be able to play better," Boudreau said.

Buffalo, meanwhile, celebrated as though it had won a playoff game, which in a way, it had. The Sabres are in a mad dash to try to reach the postseason. They are 10th in the Eastern Conference, four points behind the eighth-place New York Rangers. Plus, the Sabres started a stretch run in which they'll play six games in nine days, including matchups against such top teams as Detroit, Boston and New Jersey.

"We needed this win," Pominville said. "We found a way."

Derek Roy, Drew Stafford, Clarke MacArthur and Maxim Afinogenov also scored for Buffalo, and Tim Connolly had three assists. Ovechkin raised his NHL-leading goal total to 55 and Alexander Semin netted his 30th for Washington.

Unlike last season - when they were at the bottom of the league standings in late November - the Capitals built a big early lead in the division and clinched with four games to spare.

Asked before the game how much time he'd spent discussing the possibility of locking up the division, Boudreau offered a one-word answer: "None."

Washington led, 1-0, then let Buffalo go up, 2-1, on goals 48 seconds apart. Then the Capitals went back in front with goals nine seconds apart by Semin and Fedorov.

After Buffalo tied the game, Fedorov's second goal put Washington ahead again, only to have Afinogenov make it 4-all with nine minutes left in regulation. And then came Fedorov's miscue in overtime.

"If you battle that hard, you're going to get rewarded," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.






  • 130
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    Sabres 5, Capitals 4  Final - OTApr 3 10:55 PM


  • ** CONFIRMED **
    NHL
    BUFFALO 5
    WASHINGTON 4

    Apr 3 10:05 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 5
    WASHINGTON 4
    OT: BUF - JASON POMINVILLE 17 (TIM CONNOLLY) 1:51

    Sabres 5, Capitals 4  End of OTApr 3 9:45 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 3RD GOING INTO OT
    1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 2 1 1 4
    WASHINGTON 1 3 0 4 GOING INTO OT
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - (PP) ALEX OVECHKIN 55 (BROOKS LAICH, VIKTOR KOZLOV)
    5:35
    BUF - PAUL GAUSTAD 11 (JAROSLAV SPACEK, CRAIG RIVET) 9:14
    BUF - CLARKE MACARTHUR 16 (JASON POMINVILLE, TIM CONNOLLY)
    10:02
    2ND PRD: WAS -

    Apr 3 9:42 PM
  • 125
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    RUWTbot Added 65 roots (Overtime)

    Sabres 4, Capitals 4  End of Reg.Apr 3 9:42 PM
  • 60
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    RUWTbot Added 21 roots (Close Finish)

    Sabres 4, Capitals 4  3rd - 7:18Apr 3 9:25 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 4
    WASHINGTON 4
    3RD PRD: BUF - MAXIM AFINOGENOV 6 (TONI LYDMAN) 10:21

    Sabres 4, Capitals 4  3rd - 9:39Apr 3 9:21 PM
  • 39
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    RUWTbot Added 23 roots (Close Finish)

    Sabres 4, Capitals 4  3rd - 9:39Apr 3 9:21 PM
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    Sabres 3, Capitals 4  3rd - 12:18Apr 3 9:16 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 2 1 3
    WASHINGTON 1 3 4 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - (PP) ALEX OVECHKIN 55 (BROOKS LAICH, VIKTOR KOZLOV)
    5:35
    BUF - PAUL GAUSTAD 11 (JAROSLAV SPACEK, CRAIG RIVET) 9:14
    BUF - CLARKE MACARTHUR 16 (JASON POMINVILLE, TIM CONNOLLY)
    10:02
    2ND PRD: WAS - (

    Apr 3 8:48 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 3
    WASHINGTON 4
    2ND PRD: WAS - SERGEI FEDOROV 10 (ALEX OVECHKIN, VIKTOR KOZLOV) 18:40

    Sabres 3, Capitals 4  2nd - 1:20Apr 3 8:44 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 3
    WASHINGTON 3
    2ND PRD: BUF - (PP) DEREK ROY 27 (TIM CONNOLLY, JAROSLAV SPACEK) 18:17

    Sabres 3, Capitals 3  2nd - 1:43Apr 3 8:42 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 2
    WASHINGTON 3 16:10 LEFT, 2ND PRD

    Sabres 2, Capitals 3  2nd - 16:10Apr 3 8:20 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 2
    WASHINGTON 2
    2ND PRD: WAS - (PP) ALEXANDER SEMIN 30 (UNASSISTED) 3:41

    Sabres 2, Capitals 2  2nd - 16:19Apr 3 8:09 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 2 2
    WASHINGTON 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - (PP) ALEX OVECHKIN 55 (QUINTIN LAING, VIKTOR KOZLOV)
    5:35
    BUF - PAUL GAUSTAD 11 (JAROSLAV SPACEK, CRAIG RIVET) 9:14
    BUF - CLARKE MACARTHUR 16 (JASON POMINVILLE, TIM CONNOLLY)
    10:02
    SHOTS ON GOAL:

    Apr 3 7:47 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 2
    WASHINGTON 1
    1ST PRD: BUF - CLARKE MACARTHUR 16 (JASON POMINVILLE, TIM CONNOLLY)
    10:02

    Sabres 2, Capitals 1  1st - 9:58Apr 3 7:26 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 1
    WASHINGTON 1
    1ST PRD: BUF - PAUL GAUSTAD 11 (JAROSLAV SPACEK, CRAIG RIVET) 9:14

    Sabres 1, Capitals 1  1st - 10:46Apr 3 7:26 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 0
    WASHINGTON 1
    1ST PRD: WAS - (PP) ALEX OVECHKIN 55 (QUINTIN LAING, VIKTOR KOZLOV)
    5:35

    Sabres 0, Capitals 1  1st - 14:25Apr 3 7:20 PM