WASHINGTON (AP) -- Alex Ovechkin wasn't around to see the
Washington Capitals finish off the Eastern Conference's best team,
but his teammates used their superstar's absence as a rallying
Now the Capitals will wait to see if Ovechkin is further
penalized for what the Buffalo Sabres thought was a cheap shot.
Richard Zednik and Bryan Muir scored 34 seconds apart during the
Capitals' four-goal first period and Washington overcame Ovechkin's
first career ejection in a 7-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on
Ovechkin scored his team-high 17th goal before being tossed late
in the second period.
Washington played the final 35:08 without Ovechkin, who was
assessed a game misconduct for the first time in his two-year
career after shoulder-checking Daniel Briere from behind into the
boards near the Buffalo bench.
"He got turned around and I hit him," Ovechkin said, adding
that he didn't think the infraction warrants a suspension. "I
didn't want to give him some injury. It was an accident."
"It left a big hole in our lineup, even for a period and a
half. ... We're going to have to play some nights without
(Ovechkin), whether it's an injury or something like this,"
Pettinger said. "We showed tonight we can battle when that
Derek Roy, Chris Drury, Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford had goals
for Buffalo, which lost for only the second time in 13 road games.
The six goals allowed were a season high for the Sabres, who had a
two-game winning streak snapped.
The Capitals scored three times in the first 7:45, sending
goaltender Ryan Miller to the bench for Martin Biron. It was the
third consecutive game in which Washington forced an opponent to
switch goalies, an NHL first this season.
Zednik tallied on a breakaway at 2:01, pushing the puck past
Miller's glove side, and Muir swept a shot from center-point 34
Ovechkin's goal made it 3-0. After stealing the puck from Maxim
Afinogenov, Ovechkin kept it on a 2-on-2 break, scoring from the
Roy scored for Buffalo at 15:09 when sprawling goalie Olaf
Kolzig failed to corral the puck with his gloved hand.
Less than a minute later, Clymer restored Washington's
three-goal cushion. Clymer's shot from deep in the slot was chested
by Biron, popped up in the air and then bounced behind him.
Early in the second, Ovechkin leveled Briere into the right-wing
boards, drawing a five-minute boarding major and touching off a
series of skirmishes. Paul Gaustad pummeled Ovechkin, who didn't
throw a punch in retaliation.
"He was behind me -- I couldn't see it. ... The puck was going
deep and I was going for a [line] change," said Briere. "It was
definitely late and from behind. It's tough to say whether he
deserves a suspension."
Ovechkin drew an automatic $100 fine for the hit, which will be
reviewed by the league office to determine if further action will
"(Briere) was defenseless. He went headfirst into the boards,"
Ruff said. "I think if (Washington) looked at it through their
eyes and it was Ovechkin going headfirst into the wall, I think
they'd feel the same way. We don't need those plays in the game."
Ovechkin, Gaustad and Buffalo's Adam Mair were handed game
misconducts, and 79 minutes in penalties were assessed following
With the teams skating 4-on-4, Washington took a 5-1 lead at
7:24. Biron came out too far to play Brian Pothier's shot and
Pettinger poked the puck into an empty net.
Afinogenov's apparent power-play goal at 9:18 was disallowed on
video replay when it was ruled to have been kicked in. Just 28
seconds later, Afinogenov assisted on Drury's man-up goal from in
Vanek made it 5-3 with 28 seconds left in the second.
Pettinger's second goal put Washington up by three. Stafford got
Buffalo within 6-4 with 7:46 left.
Erskine added a length-of-the-ice, empty-net goal with 56
Zednik left late in the second with a right leg injury. ...
Washington recalled D Jeff Schultz from AHL Hershey, but he wasn't
in the lineup. The Capitals also scratched D Jamie Heward (facial
laceration) and RW Dainius Zubrus (illness). ... D Jaroslav Spacek
(left leg) and C Jiri Novotny (upper body injury) didn't dress for
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Verizon Center Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Referees: Mike Hasenfratz, Don Koharski Linesmen: Anthony Sericolo, Mark Shewchyk
Attendance: 17,162 (93.3% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Richard Zednik (5)
Bryan Muir (1)
Assist: Brian Sutherby
Alex Ovechkin (16)
Derek Roy (4)
Assists: Dmitri Kalinin, Thomas Vanek
Ben Clymer (3)
Assists: Jakub Klepis, John Erskine
Matt Pettinger (7)
Assist: Brian Pothier
Chris Drury (16)
(Power Play) Assists: Maxim Afinogenov, Teppo Numminen
Thomas Vanek (17)
Assists: Maxim Afinogenov, Brian Campbell
Matt Pettinger (8)
Assists: Alexander Semin, Kris Beech
Drew Stafford (2)
Assist: Chris Drury
John Erskine (1)
(Empty Net) Assist: Steve Eminger