By: Justin Creech
Washington, DC— As he stood just inside the locker room Wednesday night surrounded by reporters, Washington Capitals forward Brendan Morrison reflected on his days playing junior hockey when he was asked about his second period tally.
“I haven’t done that in 17 years,” said Morrison.
Morrison was referring to the highlight reel move he used to beat Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller midway through the second period.
After Miller stopped Tomas Fleischmann, the puck laid in the crease just to the left of Miller. Morrison was initially going to use a backhand shot, but after realizing Miller had taken away the bottom part of the net, Morrison quickly went to his forehand and fired a shot high through his legs that beat Miller
The shot restored the Capitals two-goal lead and proved to be the game winner.
Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin scored power play goals in the third period 1:15 apart as the Capitals defeated the Northeast Divisionleading Sabres, 5-2, to kick start a three game home stand.
Morrison had been snake bit of late having gone nine straight games without scoring a goal, but was all smiles in the locker room while discussing his goal.
“I figured I was due one,” said Morrison. “Last time we played these guys is when it got started. I had four great chances on Miller and kind of got stoned and then you start to think about it instead of just reacting and you get into a bit of a funk. But, hopefully it’s done.”
Backstrom’s goal came on a 5 on 3 with Craig Rivet and Paul Gaustad in the penalty box for the Sabres as Alexander Semin sent a cross ice pass to Backstrom who barried it past Miller for his second goal of the game. Backstrom scored the Capitals first goal of the game 1:18 into the first period.
Ovechkin’s goal came with Gaustad still in the box after Mike Green’s centering feed deflected off of Brooks Laich’s left skate to Ovechkin who fired a hard slap shot past Miller for his 24th goal of the season and third in the last two games.
The win was especially satisfying for the Capitals who were shut out by Miller and the Sabres, 3-0, on Dec. 9 in Buffalo. Miller stopped all 35 Capitals shots that night as the Sabres ended what had been a six game winning streak for Washington.
However, the Capitals beat Miller twice within their first four shots, the second coming on a slap shot by Green that deflected off of Derek Roy’s stick past Miller’s catching glove at 6:47, to put to bed any chance of a repeat performance.
“If you don’t score he makes big saves at the end of the game,” said Green, who’s goal was his seventh of the season. “It was important we got after him right away. That’s why we were successful.”
Backstrom’s first goal came on a wrist shot from the high slot that beat Miller high to the glove side after Ovechkin passed to Backstrom from the right circle. After a slow start that saw Backstrom score just four goals in the first 26 games of the season he now has 10 goals in the last 11 games.
“Yeah, Bruce tell me to shoot more and everything,” said Backstrom. “So, I am trying to do that on the rebounds and I have had some luck the last two games.”
The Capitals dominated the first period outshooting the Sabres 15-4 and outscoring them 2-0. The game changed a bit in the second period as the Sabres came out with more intensity in an effort to get back into the game.
Gaustad scored 5:04 into the period on an abbreviated power play on a shot that beat Neuvirth five-hole to pull the Sabres within one.
Morrison tallied 5:44 later to restore the Capitals two-goal lead, but before they could get comfortable, Tim Connolly deflected a shot from Steve Montador past Neuvirth to pull the Sabres within 3-2 heading into the third period.
After Rivet was called for hooking at 9:20 of the third, Gaustad was whistled for tripping Fleischmann at the Sabres blueline which gave the Capitals a two-man advantage for 51 seconds.
Backstrom and Ovechkin made the Sabres pay as their ensuing goals put the game out of reach.