The Caps returned home to the Phone Booth to meet the Buffalo Sabres this evening and HM was in the house for all the action. The Sabres currently sit at the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference with 50 points. Prior to the national anthen (which was delivered beautifully by one of the most talented youngsters I've ever heard), the arena went silent in honor of the great Abe Pollin.
The Capitals saw the return of Juice (Milan Jurcina) as well as the addition of fan fave Karl Alzner from Hershey to the bench. Alzner showed lots of energy and hockey smarts in the opening minutes in his first few shifts. Bruce Boudreau was getting ready for Turkey Day by doing some mixing of his lines in the first period. Ovie lit the lamp first with an even-strength goal, assisted by Jeff Schultz. The boys faced a tough foe in Sabres' net minder Ryan Miller, who holds a .931 save percentage. The first period definitely saw those guys in the white sweaters hanging out in the Caps' zone a little more than Hockey Mom would have liked, yet Varlamov did a good job of shooing them away. Especially considering the shots on goal favored the Sabres by 9-2 by the 5:37 mark! Mike Green had a stellar slap shot opportunity with less than 20 seconds remaining in the period but was swiped out of mid-air by Miller.
The second period opened with a barrage of Capitals' shots against the Sabres and once again Mike Green had a bullet that was gobbled up by Miller Time. I duly noted that Miller loves to come way out of his house to play the puck. And it happened so fast I didn't catch the number, but Brian Pothier pretty much wrecked a Sabres player with a nasty hip check early on the second and the intensity certainly seemed to ramp up from that point. Potsy also got in the way of an excellent scoring opportunity for Buffalo midway through - he had an exceptional showing all around tonight!
The action continued end to end but no more scoring in the second period (Ovie did do a lovely job of absolutely leveling Derek Roy in the corner though) and we went into the end of the period holding the
The boys opened the final period with a sweet Pothier to Matt Bradley combo that was denied by Miller. Then the crowd went nuts when the Great8 took a call for boarding Patrick Kaleta, which also earned a harsh five-minute minute misconduct (note: this was the first penalty of the game). The second penalty came less than two minutes later as Buffalo went short-handed for tripping. This place went wild in applause and the fans gave the boys a standing ovation for an amazing five-minute long penalty kill which actually yielded a few nice short-handed scoring chances!
Mike Green took a seat a few minutes later and Varly was a wall on the resulting Sabres power play. The Caps lit the lamp for the second time on a tally from Eric Fehr, with help from his friends Brendan Morrison and Mike Green.
So the boys held on for a final score of 2-0. A great effort tonight and they went all out for the full 60 minutes. The mood in the room after the game was upbeat and several players including Brian Pothier and Jay Beagle gave kudos to Semyon Varlamov for his outstanding contributions in net tonight.
So congrats, boys on a lovely home win and Hockey Mom is signing off and wishing you all a very happy and safe Thanksgiving!