Alex Ovechkin is a future Hall of Famer who has impressive numbers against most teams. He’s added another goal and victory to his overflowing totals against Buffalo.
Ovechkin helped Washington pick up its eighth win in a row Monday with a 2-0 victory in First Niagara Center. Ovechkin scored the opening goal to run his career totals to 24 goals and 39 points in 37 games against the Sabres.
A point-per-game pace tends to lead to wins, and the Capitals earned another one over the Sabres. Washington is 7-1-2 in its last 10 games against Buffalo, part of a 16-6-4 run since the start of the 2008-09 season.
In addition to delivering the win, Ovechkin riled up the Sabres and the crowd with five minutes to go. He pushed Josh Gorges into the boards from behind, which led to Jake McCabe coming over for a big retaliatory hit. Ovechkin went after McCabe as both benches buzzed. No penalties were called.
The Sabres were shut out for the third time this season and second time in five games. Braden Holtby finished with 31 saves, including a dazzling glove save on Sabres left wing Evander Kane with 59.7 seconds to play.
Buffalo fell to 15-17-4 overall and 4-2-1 in the last six games.
Kane plays: Kane was in the lineup as Buffalo police continued a sex-offense investigation that began Sunday. “There’s not a whole lot I can say,” Kane said before the game. “I just want to say I’ve done nothing wrong. I look forward to clearing my name.”
Kane briefly went to the trainers’ room during the second period after taking a puck to the face.
Wrong guy open: Ovechkin isn’t going to miss a wide-open chance at the top of the crease. He proved it with 19 seconds gone in the second period. T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom beat Sam Reinhart to a puck in the corner, and Sabres Rasmus Ristolainen and Josh Gorges both followed the puck. It left Ovechkin alone to bury a pass from Backstrom to make it 1-0.
The Sabres have allowed the opening goal in 22 of their 26 games.
Fight club: The Sabres picked up just their seventh fighting major of the season when Nicolas Deslauriers dropped the gloves with Washington’s Michael Latta off a second-period faceoff. Deslauriers scored a big win as Latta suffered an upper-body injury, and the Sabres forward celebrated along with the cheering sellout crowd of 19,070. He wildly waved his arms and yelled on his way to the box.
Fighting back: The Capitals’ Tom Wilson chirped the boxed-in Deslauriers when Washington doubled its lead just 2:06 after the fight. Wilson’s slap shot hit the back boards and bounced past goaltender Linus Ullmark to a wide-open Jay Beagle in the slot. Beagle pounced on the opportunity and made it 2-0 with 7:05 left in the second period.
Challenge denied: Tyler Ennis crashed the crease with 4:10 to play, taking out Caps goaltender Braden Holtby to help the puck go into the net. Officials immediately waved the no-goal signal, but Sabres coach Dan Bylsma challenged. The refs' review determined "incidental contact on the goaltender," which resulted in no goal.
Shots but no goals: While the Capitals controlled the second period on the scoreboard with the two goals, Buffalo controlled much it on the ice. Buffalo ran out to an 11-2 shot edge during the period and finished with 12 of the 19 shots. It didn’t matter as goalie Braden Holtby stopped them all.
Frustration: After another turnover during a fruitless power play, Ennis angrily made his way to the bench and slammed his stick on the boards. Fans booed as the Sabres’ man-advantage unit went 0 for 3 to fall to 0 for 17 in the last six games.
Scoreless first period: It was little surprise the Sabres didn’t find the net during the opening 20 minutes. They have just 14 first-period goals this season, lowest total in the league. But they did well to keep the Capitals off the scoreboard. Washington’s 31 goals during the first ranked in a tie for fifth in the NHL. Buffalo outshot Washington, 10-9, during the period.
McCabe crunch: Washington defenseman Dmitry Orlov made McCabe pay for aggressive offensive play. As soon as McCabe crossed into the Capitals zone with 1:30 gone, Orlov leveled him with a crushing body check that drew gasps from the crowd.
End to the ironman: Capitals defenseman John Carlson missed his first game since April 6, 2010, ending his run at 412 straight games. Carlson, who has a lower-body injury, fell just short of Bob Carpenter’s franchise record of 422 consecutive games.
Same lineup: Sabres forward Marcus Foligno missed his fifth straight game with an upper-body injury. Buffalo scratched defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo for the eighth game in a row.
Up next: The teams face off again Wednesday in Washington. It’s part of three games in four nights for the Sabres, who will return home following the game in D.C. to host the New York Islanders on New Year’s Eve.