Buffalo at Washington

Ovechkin lifts Caps over Sabres with overtime goal


WASHINGTON -- The puck was in the net, and Alexander Ovechkin was ready to celebrate a victory that propelled the Washington Capitals to the top of the Eastern Conference.

As he skated toward center ice, Washington's quirky star lifted his left leg high off the ice. Ovechkin then broke into dance, pumping his legs up and down with his arms spread before engaging in a hug with teammates Brooks Laich and Karl Alzner.

Eastern Conference
6x-N.Y. Rangers485622
8x-N.Y. Islanders485520
11o-New Jersey484817
14o-Tampa Bay484017
Complete Playoff Race >>

"I just made it up. I was excited," Ovechkin said of his celebration, which came immediately after he scored 3:19 into overtime to give the Capitals a 5-4 victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.

Ovechkin took a shot from the left circle that glanced off the skate of Buffalo defenseman Andrej Sekera and past goalie Jhonas Enroth.

"It's always nice when you score the overtime goal," Ovechkin said in the noisy Capitals locker room.

The Capitals have 103 points, one more than idle Philadelphia. Washington has two games left and the Flyers have three to play.

Twice in the final nine minutes of regulation, the Sabres broke a tie with a power-play goal. On each occasion, Washington scored the equalizer with the extra man.

Paul Gaustad put Buffalo up 3-2 at 12:35, and Mike Knuble answered with his second goal of the game at 14:18. Then, after Drew Stafford received credit for a goal that Washington defenseman John Carlson accidentally kicked into the net, Jason Arnott tied it, scoring his 400th career goal with 51.3 seconds left

"It was a fun one for the players. Both teams couldn't hold each other back," Knuble said.

Washington coach Bruce Boudreau wasn't nearly as pleased with the back-and-forth pace, which he said resembled the run-and-gun Capitals of last season.

"I thought it was way too close to looking like last year," he said. "We sort of have to buckle down."

Despite the loss, the seventh-place Sabres got a point and now have 88. Buffalo trails Montreal by three points and moved one point ahead of the idle New York Rangers.

"Could have had two points, but this time of year we'll take this point and try to get two tomorrow," said winger Thomas Vanek, who scored his 200th career goal.

Buffalo was without goalie Ryan Miller, who didn't make the trip because of an undisclosed upper body injury. Miller, who won the Vezina Trophy last season as the NHL's top netminder, played in 64 of the Sabres' first 77 games.

He was replaced by Enroth, who gave up two soft goals early in the game but finished with 30 saves.

Referee Bill McCreary was honored on the ice before officiating his final NHL regular-season game. He made his debut in November 1984, when the Capitals played host to New Jersey.

"It was a real honor to finish here, and I think it was a pretty entertaining game in the end for everyone," McCreary said.

This game was penalty-free until 7:59 of the third period, when Washington was called for having too many men on the ice.

"Give the players credit," McCreary said. "It was their game."

The Capitals scored with only 37 seconds elapsed when Knuble batted in the rebound of a shot by Carlson to conclude a 2-on-1 break. Alexander Semin made it 2-0 at 4:41 with his 28th goal, an easy tip-in after Enroth let a shot by Nicklas Backstrom get behind him in the crease.

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff immediately used his only timeout, and it enabled Enroth and the Sabres to settle down. Vanek scored his 200th career goal at 6:30 of the period, and Stafford tied it three minutes later.

"We didn't get the start we wanted, but I thought after that we worked hard, battled hard and got back in the game," Ruff said. "Once we got by that [opening] segment of hockey, we were good again."


  • Washington recalled D Sean Collins from the Hershey Bears of the AHL.
  • Before the Capitals' late surge with the extra man, Buffalo had been successful on 36 of 37 penalty kills and had allowed only one power-play goal in 12 games.
  • Washington drew its 100th consecutive home sellout.
Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Six seasons in the NHL and for the sixth time Alex Ovechkin (right) registers at least 30 goals.  (US Presswire)
Six seasons in the NHL and for the sixth time Alex Ovechkin (right) registers at least 30 goals. (US Presswire)
Buffalo (39-29-10)20204
Washington  (46-22-11) «20215
Three Stars
A. Ovechkin

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 2
M. Knuble

Goals: 2
Assist(s): 0
J. Arnott

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0

Related Video

Scoring Summary
37.0 - Mike Knuble (22), Backhand Shot. Assist: Carlson, Ovechkin
04:41 - Alexander Semin (28), Wrist Shot. Assist: Backstrom, Sturm
06:30 - Thomas Vanek (28), Tip-In. Assist: Pominville, Butler
09:28 - Drew Stafford (29), Wrist Shot. Assist: Boyes, Myers
12:35 - Paul Gaustad (11), Wrist Shot. Assist: Gerbe, Weber
14:18Power Play - Mike Knuble (23), Tip-In. Assist: Laich, Backstrom
16:39Power Play - Drew Stafford (30), Wrist Shot. Assist: Connolly
19:08Power Play - Jason Arnott (17), Wrist Shot. Assist: Ovechkin, Semin
03:19 - Alex Ovechkin (30), Wrist Shot. Assist: Carlson, Backstrom
Penalty Summary
07:59Ovechkin, 2 min, Bench - Too Many Men on the Ice
12:53Boyes, 2 min, High-Sticking
15:48Hannan, 2 min, Holding
18:35Gaustad, 2 min, High-Sticking
Shots On Goal
Jhonas Enroth 63:19305
Michal Neuvirth 62:38344
Game Information
Attendance - 18398
Referees - Bill McCreary, Marc Joannette
Linesmen - Jean Morin, Dan Schachte
Other Games
Atl 2 Final
Bos 3
TB 3 Final
Min 1
Det 4 Final
Nash 3
Dal 1 Final
LA 3
Tor 4 Final
Ott 2
Pitt 4 Final
Fla 2
Mon 3 Final
NJ 1
Car 4 Final
Edm 4 Final
Van 1
Ana 2 Final
SJ 4