Kahun scores shootout goal in Sabres 3-2 win over Capitals
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Sabres coach Ralph Krueger liked the resolve he saw from a Buffalo team that could have easily quit.
Rather than let down after squandering a 2-0 third-period lead and having a third goalie interference call in three games go against them, the Sabres rallied to snap a six-game skid by beating the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Dominik Kahun’s goal in the seventh round of a shootout Monday night.
“It was a very frustrating experience,” Krueger said of how Brandon Montour’s go-ahead goal with 2:48 remaining in regulation was negated when Jeff Skinner was penalized for bumping into Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. “It was a very, very, very soft, questionable call.”
Replays showed Skinner made contact with Holtby’s left pad before Montour shot, though it also appeared Skinner might have been nudged into the crease by Washington’s Lars Eller.
What impressed the first-year coach is how the Sabres didn’t fold after having two similar calls go against them and lead to Penguins goals in a 4-2 loss Thursday.
“I thought we showed a lot of character,” he said. “I’m real proud of the guys to get the win here today. It’s been tough slugging here of late. We’re not getting anything for free.”
The Capitals were left frustrated after their latest in a string of inconsistent outings. And it made no difference to Holtby that Washington picked up a point to move one ahead of idle Philadelphia atop the Metropolitan Division standings.
“We know right now the points are pretty irrelevant for what we want to accomplish,” said Holtby, referring to the Capitals’ playoff aspirations. “Average at best. At this time of year we want to be extending to the next level and we’re staying average. We’ve got to find a way to push, push forward here.”
The Capitals failed to build off a 5-2 win at Pittsburgh on Saturday and dropped to 7-9-3 in their past 19. It’s a stretch in which the team has won consecutive games just once.
Holtby stopped 24 shots through overtime and gave up shootout goals to Kahun and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin.
Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist, and Dmitry Orlov also scored for Washington. Ovechkin’s goal was his 48th of the season, tying him with Boston’s David Pastrnak for the NHL lead.
Jack Eichel snapped a career-worst seven-game point drought and rookie Victor Olofsson also scored for Buffalo. Linus Ullmark stopped 33 shots through overtime and six of seven shootout attempts in his first game after missing 18 with a lower right leg injury.
Kahun, acquired from Pittsburgh in a trade last month, scored by driving across the front of the net and then flipping in a backhand.
Ullmark secured the win by getting his right pad out to stop Richard Panik on Washington’s final shootout attempt.
The Capitals, who began the day with an NHL-leading 94 third-period goals, fully dominated the final frame by scoring twice and outshooting the Sabres 16-5.
Ovechkin cut Buffalo’s lead to 2-1 by scoring off a faceoff to the left of the Sabres net 3:33 into the third period.
Orlov tied it with a shot that banked in off two Sabres defenders with 6:49 left. Driving across the top of the Buffalo zone, Orlov snapped a shot that ticked off Montour’s stick and began skidding wide of the net before deflecting in off the back of Rasmus Ristolainen’s skate.
Capitals coach Todd Reirden said his team needs to focus on playing a full 60 minutes rather than leaning on third-period comebacks.
“The trademark of our team is when we get pushed and we need to come back in games,” Reirden said of a team that is 9-17-2 when trailing after two periods. “I don’t think any team does it more than we do. That’s a positive in some respects, but it’s certainly not something that you want to rely on all the time.”
NOTES: Sabres RW Kyle Okposo appeared in his 800th career game. … Olofsson became the 16th Sabres rookie to score 20 goals, and first since Eichel and Sam Reinhart both reached the mark in 2015-16.
Capitals: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
Sabres: At the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.
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