Luke Adam scores twice in 5-1 win over Washington
With nine regulars out of the lineup and the sting of Friday’s loss to Columbus still fresh in their minds, it wouldn’t have been inconceivable to think the Buffalo Sabres could be in for a long night against the Washington Capitals. But a trio of rookies provided just the spark they needed to handily defeat the listless Capitals 5-1 at First Niagara Center.
Luke Adam scored twice and Zack Kassian picked up his first career NHL goal to lead the way for Buffalo. Defenseman Brayden McNabb, recalled earlier in the day to replace the injured Robyn Regehr, skated 13:42 of ice time and chipped in a game-high six hits.
Adam and Jason Pominville staked Buffalo to a first period lead, then the Capitals cut that in half with a penalty shot goal by Jason Chimera 6:39 into the second. But rather than fritter away another two-goal lead, Kassian responded just 27 seconds later when he drove down the right side and fired a shot between the pads of Washington netminder Tomas Vokoun. It was a deflating goal that the Caps never recovered from.
“Obviously, anytime another team scores a goal you want to respond with either a good shift or maybe a goal or a hit or something like that,” said Kassian. “It worked out well. We just tried to throw it on net for a rebound off the pad with the middle lane driving. Lucky for me it snuck through the five-hole and it went in. It was a nice burden to get off my back and now I can focus on playing.
Lindy Ruff agreed that Kassian’s goal took the wind out of Washington’s sails for the rest of the night.
“I thought [the Kassian goal] was really a momentum killer for them. That could have taken them a long ways the other direction. I thought us answering right away put out a little of their drive.”
Playing in his second NHL game, Kassian also provided a big physical presence tonight with five hits. A glass-rattling check on Jeff Schultz early in the game seemed to set his tone for the night.
“It’s important. Part of Zack’s game has to be physical,” said Ruff. “Combined with the skill he’s got, [his physical game] should be a great weapon.”
Paul Szczechura, also recalled from Rochester today, assisted on both of Adam’s goals. Jochen Hecht scored his first goal of the year on a shorthanded breakway late in the third period to cap the Buffalo scoring. It was Hecht’s first goal since March 12 of last season in Toronto.
Washington superstar Alex Ovechkin was a non-factor in the game, finishing minus-4 and taking just two shots.
NOTES: Drew Stafford was a late scratch with a lower body injury. Ruff didn’t seem overly concerned with his prognosis after the game, saying that he was in the day-to-day category.
6:46 - Good evening from high atop the First Niagara Center in balmy Buffalo, NY!
6:58 - BUF scratches: Stafford, Regehr, Kaleta WASH scratches: Erskine, Green, Beagle
6:59 - Brayden McNabb will wear #81; Paul Szczechura will wear #58
7:02 - BUF starters: Vanek/Hecht/Pominville; Leopold/Sekera; Enroth WASH starters: Ovechkin/Backstrom/Brouwer; Alzner/Carlson; Vokoun
7:08 - Game on!
7:10 - I'll try and stay on top of the line combos throughout the night, as they are bound to change with all the new faces. Right now it's Roy between Gerbe/Kassian
7:10 - Adam centering Leino/Szczechura
7:11 - Ellis/Gaustad/Tropp
7:12 - Sabres on the PP - Schultz called for holding on Gaustad
7:12 - PP unit: Ehrhoff/Gragnani, Vanek/Gerbe/Pominville
7:13 - The line is buzzing early. All three forwards have had good scoring chances
7:14 - Brennan was just rocked by an Ovechkin hit at the Sabres blueline. But he popped right back up
7:17 - Slow start to the game. Crowd seems very quiet for a S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y night.
7:19 - Vanek spotted Pominville racing to the net but had his pass cut off in the slot
7:23 - 11:53 left in the 1st. Shots are even at 5-5
7:24 - Corey Tropp having some trouble with his footing out there. Someone get that kid a skate sharpening!
7:27 - BUF 1-0: Luke Adam was Johnny on the Spot in front, spinning around to find Szczechura's pass right on his stick for a one-timer that he wasted no time with.
7:29 - Szczechura with the lone assist, at 7:10
7:31 - Sabres are 8-3-1 when scoring first; Caps are 8-4-0 when allowing the first goal.
7:32 - Szczechura rifles a shot that Vokoun gets a piece of with his glove. This new guy is going to make me type his crazy name all night long...
7:37 - GOAL!
7:37 - 2-0: Pominville taps home the loose puck after Vokoun bobbles the infield fly.
7:37 - Vanek and Ehrhoff with the helpers at 15:23
7:44 - That's it for the 1st period - Sabres lead Washington 2-0. Also hold a 12-7 edge in shots.
8:01 - Game on!
8:03 - I like McNabb's game so far. He doesn't try to do too much, and hits anything that gets close to him.
8:05 - Sekera works over Ovechkin in close, gets called for slashing. Appeared to cash Ovi in the hand area.
8:06 - Ruff showing confidence in McNabb, putting him on the PK with 29/55/17
8:14 - Enroth goes airborne to avoid Chimera sliding into his net -- then the Caps are awarded a penalty shot due to Ehrhoff hauling down Chimera
8:15 - 2-1: Chimera scores on the penalty shot
8:15 - 3-1: Sabres answer back with Zack Kassian's first NHL goal - a five-hole special from the right wing.
8:16 - Sekera and Roy with the assists, at 7:06
8:20 - Kassian crunches Schultz along the end boards to force the turnover. Nothing comes of it, but that's what Sabres fans are expecting from him
8:25 - Gaustad off for tripping at the 12 minute mark.
8:26 - So much for that Caps PP. Backstrom drops a meaningless cross-check on Pominville to earn himself 2 minutes of shame.
8:30 - 4:38 left in the 2nd. Sabres have upped their shots lead to 20-14
8:33 - Nice to see that Joel Ward didn't oversleep and miss tonight's game.
8:37 - Semin and Leino pick up coincidental minors.
8:37 - End of the 2nd -- Sabres lead 3-1.
8:45 - Sabres outhitting Caps 26-19. McNabb has a game-high 6; Kassian close behind with 5
8:55 - Game on!
8:57 - 4-1: Luuuuke Adam with his 2nd of the night. He steps out of the corner past three stunned Caps defenders and roofs a shot past a helpless Vokoun.
8:58 - Szczechura and Leino with the assists, at 1:12
9:05 - Szczechura has played well in his first game as a Sabre. In addition to his 2 assists, he's made several solid defensive plays to nullify scoring chances.
9:11 - 9:46 left in the 3rd - Caps outshooting Buffalo 6-2 this period, but Sabres hold 23-21 overall advantage
9:15 - Looks like the refs have put their whistles away. Two obvious Caps infractions go uncalled
9:15 - Adam and Leino both miss a pair of great scoring chances, with Vokoun playing a big part in denying Leino
9:17 - Kassian with the accidental high stick, but it's still a 2 min call
9:18 - GOAL!
9:19 - 5-1: Jochen Hecht breaks in alone to pot his first of the year -- shorthanded at 14:39
9:20 - Gerbe and Ehrhoff with the assists on Hecht's goal
9:22 - We're down to 4:08 left in the game. At this point, I can safely remove the "regulation time" phrase from that sentence.
9:26 - Hecht just misses his second shorty of the period, sliding it just wide of the right post
9:27 - Last minute of play. Time for some "Sweet Caroline"....
9:29 - FINAL: Buffalo 5 -- Washington 1