Starting only his fifth game of the season Caps back-up goalie Philip Grubauer had a lot to celebrate even before the first puck drop. Grubauer was celebrating his 25th birthday tonight in this Washington’s finale of a five-game homestand against the Buffalo Sabres. He was able to put on an outstanding performance in a 3-1 win over the Sabres in front of his family, who had not seen Grubauer play as a pro before tonight. With this win the Caps improve to 4-0 against the Atlantic Division this season and win four out of five games on the homestand.
Caps winger Daniel Winnik scored the game’s first goal a little over five minutes into the first period for his third of the season and his first since October 15th of this season (10 games). Center Marcus Johansson scored an unassisted goal in the second period for his eighth of the season to put Washington up 2-0. This was Johansson’s first goal scored at Verizon Center this season; the previous seven had all been scored on the road. Finally, after three failed attempts on the power play, winger Brett Connolly scored his second goal of the season to put the game away for Washington. Before tonight Connolly had not scored since October 30th in Calgary of this season. Philip Grubauer (3-1-1) recorded 32 saves in tonight’s victory and earned his first career win against Buffalo (1-0-2).
Sabres center Sam Reinhart scored the lone goal for Buffalo in the middle of the third period for his fourth of the season and his first in four games. He was assisted by winger Kyle Okposo and defensemen Cody Franson. Reihart tied for the team lead in shots on goal with center Ryan O’Reilly and Rasmus Ristolainen with five, second was winger Evander Kane and Taylor Fedun with four. Sabres goalie Anders Nilsson (2-2-2), who came into tonight with the league lead in save percentage collected 26 saves but let all of three of the Caps goals get past him.
Washington will complete its fourth set of back-to-back games tomorrow when they travel to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs. Game time will be 7:00 PM/ET.
About the Author
Written by Brendan Keelan
Former High School and College athlete (football, Wesley College).