Turns out the four-goal lead the Sabres accumulated in the first period would be all they needed to hand Washington a decisive, demoralizing 4-2 loss.
It was a defeat that highlighted what is becoming something of a chronic bad habit of sluggish starts for the Capitals, who have given up the first goal in eight of their past 11 road games. Against the Sabres, who ended a three-game losing streak with points from 10 different players, the ditch into which Washington dug itself proved too big to climb out of.
"Those are habits that need to be broken if you want to be successful, and I don't know how long it takes before enough is enough,"
Things went poorly from the opening faceoff. Only nine seconds into the game,
Buffalo went up 2-0 after
The Sabres' success continued to snowball as
"Less than 10 seconds into the game we're in the penalty box, and they capitalized on it," Hendricks said. "The common theme we saw in New Jersey and tonight is we can put pressure on when we decide to do it. I don't think we came out with that mentality or that urgent desire to do those little things, getting pucks deep [and] finishing checks. Stuff that's going to make their D turn the puck over."
Not even the change in goal would jostle Washington out of its stagnant state that period. The Capitals were caught flat-footed repeatedly as Buffalo continued to take chances. With
"I didn't see the shot, it hit me in the armpit and went in," said Vokoun, who had 16 saves. "It's just nice to get on the ice, but it's not a very good atmosphere right now."
While the Capitals said they remained optimistic after the horrid first period, the damage was done. Washington would continue to allow chances — such as a three-on-one in the opening minute of the second — but the Sabres rang shots off the post and Vokoun would also come up big to prevent additional goals from piling up.
Finally, Washington managed quality shots and scoring chances against
Ovechkin's power-play goal midway through the third made added another to make it 4-2, but the game was well final score was deceiving because the game was out of reach long by before then.