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Sabres snap Caps' winning streak with 3-2 OT win

By Katie Carrera

Although they had a strong first period and scored first for just the fifth time this season, the Capitals' start was overshadowed by what several players and Bruce Boudreau called their worst 20 minutes of hockey this season (or worse) in the second.

By allowing the Sabres to spend almost the entire second stanza in their end, the Capitals not only gave up a pair of goals on 11 shots but they also relinquished the momentum of the game to Buffalo. With Ryan Miller back in net the Sabres didn't let the opportunity to claim their first win of the year at HSBC arena pass them by, and went on to snap Washington's six-game winning streak with a 3-2 overtime victory.

"I thought the second period was our worst period of hockey that maybe I've seen since I've been here," Boudreau said. "I'm really upset about how we played and how we came out [in the second]. You talk about coming from behind all year and you finally get the lead and you're supposed to put the pedal down then and just keep going after them and break their will. We sat back, took penalties and played really bad."

The good news, if any, is that the Capitals have a chance to forget all about this game and that miserable second period during which they were outshot 11-4 -- which is even a little deceiving because two of those shots came in the final minute and a half -- when they host the Atlanta Thrashers tomorrow at 5 p.m.

--In Buffalo you saw the pros and cons of having a goaltender who likes to play the puck, as Braden Holtby's aggressive nature in goal stopped a few Sabres chances and helped create a few others. He helped keep the Sabres from adding any more goals in the second period, though, and finished his second NHL start with 24 saves.

That said, Holtby wasn't happy with his reaction to Thomas Vanek driving toward the net in overtime. He tried a poke check, but Vanek was able to avoid his reach.

"That's an easy play for me," Holtby said. "I just have to go for it and I hesitated. I guess it's a learning move, usually I wouldn't do that. I don't know why I hesitated, maybe because it was Vanek I thought he might do something else, but it's a play I just have to go on."

--Boudreau completely rearranged his lines for the start of the third period, in an attempt to send some kind of wake up call to the dazed-looking Capitals. Here's what they looked like:

Ovechkin-Johansson-Knuble
Chimera-Backstrom-Semin
Laich-Hendricks-Fehr
Fleischmann-Steckel-Gordon Bradley (Apologies for the brain freeze that led to this error last night.)

"The combinations that we had weren't working so I knew if I'd left them the same we wouldn't have got anywhere. So I had to do something," Boudreau said. "I didn't know if it was going to work."

--Tomas Fleischmann didn't have a strong game and his being dropped to the fourth line in that shakeup provided more evidence of that. He was credited with three giveaways in his 11:36 of ice time, but the most damaging was his errant high-sticking double-minor at the end of the second.

It was just the opportunity that the Capitals couldn't afford to give the Sabres, who were badly outplaying them at the time.

The penalties "didn't give us an opportunity to get going offensively," Boudreau said. "Then guys sit on the bench and they don't get going but it's probably a product of us playing bad and having to grab. I mean, the high-sticking penalty on Fleischmann -- it was a one on four. Why he was even going into the middle of the ice was beyond me."

--If you're wondering how this game might have gone if Alex Ovechkin had scored against Miller on that breakaway chance in the first period, well, you're not the only one. That was Ovechkin's only shot on goal and one of only a few really big stops that Miller needed to make in his 23-save effort in his first game back from injury.

--Nicklas Backstrom was the Capitals best faceoff man (among those who took at least five draws; Matt Hendricks went 3 for 3) against the Sabres, winning 11 of his 12 draws. In the past four games combined Backstrom has won 51 of 77 faceoffs (66.2 percent).

--The Capitals don't have a morning skate before the 5 p.m. start against the Thrashers.

By Katie Carrera  | November 13, 2010; 11:42 PM ET
Categories:  Braden Holtby, Bruce Boudreau, Buffalo Sabres  
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Next: Tonight's lineup: Thrashers at Caps

Comments

@Anyone who complained about Poti not playing - You don't bring a guy back from groin injury and make him play right away 3 games in 3.8 days.

@the refs - You guys had an off night. I won't complain about the calls on the Caps. But, on one play, Alzner dropped his stick and the Sabre player pushed the stick away with his stick. That exact thing happened Thu night and Ovi got 2 for interference for barely pushing the other player's stick.

@zmega: As soon as I saw the Carter deal, 11 yrs with 5.25 cap hit yearly, I thought about Semin. Obviously 11 yr deals will have lower salary than shorter deals when the player is 26. So, who's more valuable, Carter or Semin? That's what it comes down to - if you were Team Captain, not for All-Stars but to pick a squad for Olympics or Playoffs, which player would you take first?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Carter

I'm actually surprised he didn't get a little more. He brings a lot more than the scoring. Maybe we can sign Semin 10 yrs (to match Ovi remaining length) for about the same cap hit, maybe a smidgen more.

Who is better? And would you gamble 10 yrs on Semin?

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 13, 2010 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Good point tom on the stick interference call, I'll go with another blatant missed call, and it's on Brooks Laich again (missed call Thursday night led to a goal by Stamkos) That was a pretty nice cross check in corner by Myers that led to puck coming up ice and eventually about 30 secs later, the GWG by Vanek. All in all a point in Buffalo has been scarce lately, so not a complete loss tonight, but still need 60 minute consistency. Not going to win them all, so take care of biz at home this week and all will keep rolling along LETS GO CAPS!!! BBD36

Posted by: BBDwrestling | November 14, 2010 12:38 AM | Report abuse

Carlson forgot his jock back at the HSBC arena haha awesome goal by Vanek, lazy poke check by Holtby though.

Lets beat Atlanta tomorrow boys!

Posted by: digster1013 | November 14, 2010 3:37 AM | Report abuse

Hey, go easy on Carlson. I had the exact same thing happen to me in a rec league game, with my buddies watching. You better believe that I heard about it.

Posted by: zmega | November 14, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Semin will have a good stats year this season because he's a UFA, but he'll coast once he signs a big deal. That's what guys like him do. They are crazy if they give him a long term deal.

Posted by: poguesmahone | November 14, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Just an ugly game. Not to mention boring. They have won 8 of 10. Still pretty good. Bad day for the guys. I think Holtby looks promising. Great play by Vanek but Carlson should have played the body.

Posted by: pkme | November 14, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

five year deal for Semin. No more than that.

Posted by: pkme | November 14, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Semin has improved every year; it's not just a "contract year" phenomenon. Should we gripe that OV and Backis have both seen their production go down after signing their contracts? Did they play for the big contract and start to coast?

I do have to question the line-up for the Vanek goal: rookie goalie, 2 rookie defenders, and a rookie center. That's a lot of inexperience on the ice and Vanek took advantage as all four goofed on the play, esp. Carlson. Carlson will be a very good defender in years to come, but he is a rookie and was an exposed rookie.

And Flash, ugh, is pulling his disappearing act early this year. If Flash does not play better, the Caps won't be able to trade him, won't resign him (cap reasons), so stuck with an offensive streaky player with a defensive liability with no return.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | November 14, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

I watched the play live on TV and again on the computer. MaJo lets Vanek spin him around, Carlson bites hard on a deak to the outside giving Vanek the inside (did not play the body), Alzner watches from behind trailing Vanek without trying much of anything (e.g. dive, check, poke, slash, lift), and Holtby plain misses his poke check. 4 rookie mistakes in OT = loss in OT. Oh well.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | November 14, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

@JIMALLCAPS2

That truly summed up the game. Rookie mistakes for the kids in OT. Oh well!

Hope the kids learn from it and do better in the future.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | November 14, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

There were a lot of disappointing mistakes last night, not just in OT. I was surprised by how many times Ovechkin just completely lost the handle on the puck when moving in the offensive zone, that one breakaway shot notwithstanding, even when he had plenty of time and space. I had a shaky feeling about this game during the first Caps powerplay, when he looked completely inept at the point -- almost losing a pass and just barely stopping the puck before it left the offensive zone, and nearly losing his balance receiving a pass at the point.

His play was so uncharacteristic that I'm wondering if maybe the ice was chippy or the puck warm. Players and puck alike just weren't moving the way I'm used to seeing last night.

Posted by: EastCapESF | November 14, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I've watched that OT goal a few more times also. It is indeed a comedy of errors.

Vanek is a skilled guy, the most skilled on the Buffalo squad. But is DEFINITELY not worth $50 million for 7 yrs.

I hope Semin's agent doesn't know what Vanek makes!

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | November 14, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

And its about time for Ovie to erupt.

His numbers are decent but I would really like to see some of that old "Best Player in the World" stuff.

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | November 14, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

@pkme..."Just an ugly game. Not to mention boring."

Once again, the team shows their propensity to "match-up" against the other team. No enforcer? Ok, sit DJK....where was the energy? We should be playing intense, smash-mouth, in-your-face hockey every night and let the other team fret how they can't counter the likes of DJK playing hard and physical; instead, we're content to play emotionless, confrontation-free hockey. I remember after the Atl. game everyone saying DJK would make thinks right w/Buff; well, tonight's the night and time will tell. It's just a shame that we're always the team looking to respond instead of being the team initiating.

Posted by: vermontcaps | November 14, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Ovie's numbers are ok, what I miss is that bull in a china shop attitude he had before all the drama last season. He does not seem as happy, he is floating around and not being nearly as physical as he used to be.

I kinda feel like he is still deflated from all the crap from last season. I just want my old Ovie back!

Posted by: capscoach | November 14, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Did you folks watch Bradley and Laich pull back on hits several times. My goodness. Those are two guys who always finish their checks. Not last night.

Posted by: pkme | November 14, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

On OVI it does not help that anytime he goes near the puck he has two guys on him immediately. His assist total this year will be better than his goal output.

Posted by: pkme | November 14, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Nobody has yet commented on Carter contract and possible effect on Semin negotiations. I can see Semin's agent (I think Mark Gandler) start with:

"Well, we see him as same as Gaborik and Heatley, and they make 7.5 each."

GM: "He hasn't averaged Gaborik's scoring and he doesn't play the full game like Heatley."

Semin's agent: "Surely he's better than Vanek at 7.125. Can we work someting between 7.125 and 7.5?"

GM: "You're forgetting DSedin at 6.1 and Cammalleri at 6.0."

Semin's Agent: "He's better than both."

GM: "I'll grant you, but not 20%."

Semin's Agent: "We could make work upper 6s."

GM: "OK, what about Carter?"

Semin's Agent: "He had one good year."

GM: "Over 80 points? Semin's only done that once."

Semin's Agent: "He had 79 one year and 73 one year. Carter's only broken 70 once."

GM: "They started the year with almost the same number of goals scored (Semin 148, Carter 145, but Semin 20 more assists). And you can't discount Carter's leadership."

Semin's Agent: "Yeah, well, the Carter contract included two RFA years and a back-end year to lower the payout. Are you offering eleven years?"

GM: "Harumpf."

Semin's Agent: "Tell you what. I'll let you throw out Vanek if I can throw out Carter. Let's average Garorik, Heatley, Cammalleri and Dan Sedin and settle on 6.8 per year. No, I'll do even better. We'll take 6.7 per year, same as Backstrom. Makes for no hard feelings on the team. What do you want, five years or six?"

GM: "Five."

Semin's Agent: "Deal."

Press release to be 2 January 2011. You heard it here first.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 14, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Nice one Tom.

And I wonder if Carter's contract would really come up in the Semin discussion.

I would think they would look at wingers as comparables?

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | November 14, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Good point, wtf. But, when doing Ovechkin, Crosby and Malkin, they were all compared at the time even though winger and center.

For arbitration and RFA, it's "like position" for comparables. When negotiating UFA deals, it's all fair game. So, I'm thinking GM might bring up Carter since that contract is lower and it's in his interest to do so.

Philly seems to have done well with both Richards and Carter. Hopefully we'll all live long enough to see these contracts play out (Kovalchuk, especially) and see how they work.

I don't know if Kovalchuk deal will be a Semin negotiation comparable because that deal is unique (the league only accepted it as part of: "Here's the rules and no more deals like that one.")

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 14, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

5 year deal for Semin announced on 2 January.

Sounds good to me. Although I wouldn't quibble with a 6 year deal.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | November 14, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

i don't understand why Boudreau insists on changing the lines throughout the game. You have those lines together in the first place for a reason.

Posted by: casser | November 14, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

In regards to Semin...

He could easily be the star player on a different team, BUT he does not have the star attitude. Ovechkins and Greens are expected to represent the team and be a spokesman...Semin won't even do an english interview! That brings down his value to other teams. D.C. offers him annominity he seems to want, Russian comrades, and a good team.

We won't pay him more than Backstrom. I say 6.5 for 5-7 years.

I also think it would be a good idea to sign Green to an extension this year rather than next season as his value will only go up.

Flashes 2.6 mil will come in handy next season...we won't even need to replace him.

Posted by: capscoach | November 14, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Semin should be moved. He should have been moved over the summer. We cannot afford him long term.

His value is high. Sell high McPhee.

Posted by: underpants2 | November 14, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

@underpants2

it will be difficult, but I think we can afford him...depending on what his priorities are.

Flash is gone next season that is 2.6mil we have some prospects that are ready for NHL center duty...Eakin, MP, MaJo, Nuevy is signed cheap, Our D is signed for a while...Green is the only concern (he is gonna be pricey)we also lose Knuble and might be able to get someone cheaper (even him for cheap to finish out his career)

Posted by: capscoach | November 14, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I can see this coming a mile away. We will all be talking about the solid veteran 2C the Caps can bring in using Flash's cap space, and GMGM will then sign Flash to an extension.

Poti deja vu.

I sincerely hope that I am wrong.

Posted by: zmega | November 14, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Semin will never raise a cUp over his head. Underpants is right. Trade him while somebody might overpay for him.

GMGM has already shopped Semin. The entire league knows the guy is a headcase. (Just like they know Flush is a wimp.)

Right now we may get something. After the second round exit to the Pens or Flyers, nothing !!

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 14, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

I like Knuble. Nice guy, hard worker. But, he's in the "Kolzig zone" right now. He's done.

Eakin should be up here already

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 14, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

zmega: There's no way they extend Flash. There just can't be. I see him more as a ShaMo type where GM felt he got backed into the salary. GM let ShaMo and Jurcina go and will do same with Flash.

capscoach: They cannot extend Green until July 1, 2011. Per CBA, player on multi-year deal cannot sign extension until July 1st of the final year. Also per CBA, this is Semin's case, player on one-year deal cannot sign extension until January 1st.

Right now the following players are in multi-year deals that end this year: Erskine, Laich, Knuble, Bradley. They can all be extended now. I'm surprised Poti got done before Laich, at least. Also, Varly and Alzner are in final year of entry level deals and can be extended. If not, they become RFAs next July 1st.

Flash, BGordon and Semin are on one-year deals and cannot be extended until Jan 1st.

Carlson, Green, Chimera are on multi-years that run through June, 2012 and new contract can't be signed until next July 1st. Everyone else I believe is multi-year beyond that.

There are other players among the 48 under NHL contract whose deals run out this year or next, but I only covered the guys in DC.

If I missed one, someone please correct.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 14, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

LOL.
Here are is a conversation between GMGM and our illustrious analyst in this blog.

GMGM: So I have been reading about all the mistakes I have made in trying to build a winning team and …

Illustrious Analyst: It is about time you started to see your mistakes.

GMGM: My I. A. how can I make this team better? It appears that despite being the best team last year and leading the league this year, the team is not good. My I. A. points out all the better moves the teams trailing us are doing and the reason they are below in the standings is …

I.A. You know you are on the top position only because you are lucky. You will never win with Semin he is lazy and takes dumb penalties, Green is not a real defenseman, Schultz is pylon who can not move faster than a snail, Flash is only here because he is the coaches pet. You need more people like King, people that can hit and smash players faces on the boards, they really have heart and are the smartest hockey players, without them you are never going to be on the top …

GMGM; But aren’t we on the top?

I.A.: No when it counts

GMGM: So being the best team on a 90 game schedule is not good?

I.A. Damn right. It is not good. It doesn’t count.

GMGM: OK. So how can I improve the team from being the best team in the standings?

I.A. : Get rid of your best player, he is only good because it is a contract year. Trade for ‘D’ - A real defenseman,
Green is not a defenseman, and don’t let the +/- rating of Schultz think he is good, and those two young kids, well, they are kids and they need experience. And finally, get rid of BB he is not a good coach, he can not adjust his game.

GMGM: Oh, I see now. Being on top is not good. Having one of the best all around players in the world is not good. Having the best offensive defensive man in the league is not good. Having the best +/- D-man in the league is not good. Having a coach with one of the best winning records is not good. Thank you. I will get in the ball and do as you say

I.A. No problem. I knew you will see the light.

Posted by: hock1 | November 14, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

@hock1

very nice

Posted by: billd2 | November 14, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

2010-11 G A P +/- PIM SHG GP GPG APG PPG
CARTER 8 7 15 3 22 0 17 0.47 0.41 0.88
SEMIN 12 10 22 9 12 1 17 0.71 0.59 1.29

2009-2010
CARTER 33 28 61 2 38 2 74 0.44 0.38 0.82
SEMIN 40 44 84 36 66 2 73 0.55 0.60 1.15

2008-2009
CARTER 46 38 84 23 68 4 82 0.56 0.46 1.02
SEMIN 34 45 79 25 77 0 62 0.55 0.73 1.28

Posted by: hock1 | November 14, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

@hock1 - Perfect That is definitely how it would go down.

Posted by: Justafan | November 14, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

SORRY. There was to be a question with the previous stats I submitted.
Where does Carter seem to be better than Semin?

Posted by: hock1 | November 14, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

@hock1

Man are you full of it. If Semin and Flush were so great, why was GMGM trying to move them in the off season ?

Schultz is a good D-man. My beef with him is that he has to play his size to win a cUp. He's got to improve his crease clearing ability.(weight room and play with a snarl)

Mike Green has the talent to be Bobby Orr. He needs a "real NHL coach" to get him over the hit he took in the playoffs against the Rangers. Green has never looked the same since he got knocked out.

What playoffs are you watching ? I'm watching a team that was up 3-1, who found a way to lose to Hal Gill and the smurfs. Halak was not even retained !!

Win another President's cup and hang the banner. It is worth about as much as the Mystics "Attendance Champs" banner.

Yea, we need more guys WITH TALENT who think more like DJK. We're too wimpy to win a cUp.(Don't mention the Wings again. McCarty was a true 'Beast")

This team does not have "hockey guts" of a cUp winner. That's why I'm certain we will not make it. You need 16 WINS WHILE INJURED to win the cUp. Will Semin crash the crease like now as soon as he has a playoff injury? You know the answer to that.

Did anyone on this site watch how those cUp winning Pens, Devils, and Islanders play AFTER they won a cUp and came to our building. These teams were full of SKILL AND HOCKEY GUTS. (Man Brian Trottier wore us out every time I went to te Caps center. There was no quit in those guys. Mario, as much as I hated him, gave his best every time he played us in Landover.)

Don't care that the NHL is different now. 16 wins, while injured, is beyond the DNA of much of this team. I'm sorry. I wish it weren't so !!!!

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 14, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Don't care about the stats. Comparing Carter to Semin is like comparing Joe Frazier to Aunt Bea in Mayberry.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 14, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

@hock1

Go ahead, you ride that Semin horse right on the putting green come spring. (While Syd or the Flyers still lace up.)

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 14, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

hock1: I posed the question - how do people feel Carter vs Semin and what effect if any would Carter signing have on Semin negotiations. Since I posed the question, not one single person has said Carter is better. Your numbers seem to paint a clear picture for Semin as better between the two as a point producer. Carter also plays a defensive role and can muck it up pretty good. If you ask ten hockey "experts" (incl guys like Milbury), I will bet they would be split if not 50/50 at least 4 of 10 would take Carter. If I had to choose between the two, Carter at 5.25 and Semin at say 6.7, my answer would be, "It depends on what my team needs...and the cap situation...etc."

I don't think there's any question, is there, that Semin is more talented.

If MaJo and Eakin produce long term, as we hope, then for the Caps Semin is the one you'd rather have long term. Assuming Flash is gone next year, and probably Knuble, you have Semin, Ovi, Fehr and Laich (hopefully signed) and that's it for 1st and 2nd line wingers. There's no one else on the club or at Hershey who can fill those roles, unless maybe Eakin can move to wing.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 14, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Funny, some might ask, how could two people have such a different opinion of Alexander Semin?

Simply, it's the difference between goat's blood and Kool Aid.

Huntsy, hock1...how bout you two buying each other a drink?

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 14, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

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