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Grubauer 'looking forward' to facing Panthers

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Grubauer 'looking forward' to facing Panthers

One week after allowing four goals in a 7-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in his season debut for the Capitals, goaltender Philipp Grubauer is expected to get his second start of the season tonight when the Caps visit the Florida Panthers in Sunrise (7 p.m. on CSN Plus).

“It’s tougher to get into a groove when you wait too long,” Grubauer said. “It’s definitely going to be better this time, getting into a rhythm. So I’m looking forward to it.”

Prior to his last start in Edmonton, in which he allowed four goals on 23 shots, Grubauer had not played since Oct. 2, when he saw just one period of action in the Caps’ next-to-last preseason game.

“It felt kind of awkward,” he said. “I only played about three periods in a month and only played 20 minutes a couple weeks before. It was tough getting back into it and reading the play.

“They got lucky with two tips (for goals). If that doesn’t happen it’s a different game. Obviously, we won and that’s a positive. But reading the play, playing on the road, not having played for a while, there were a couple things I learned from.”

While Grubauer faced just 23 shots in the win over Edmonton he said he touched the puck 15 times in the third period and felt comfortable with the puck exchanges he had with his defensemen.

“We did an unbelievable job keeping pucks to the outside and I think I touched the puck more times than I got shots,” he said. “It gives you confidence and guys make it real easy for me, they talk a lot.”

While the Caps (7-2-0) are coming off their 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets Saturday night, the Panthers (5-4-1) are coming off a 3-1 home loss to the Boston Bruins. 

MORE CAPITALS: A CLOSER LOOK AT THE GAME-WINNING GOAL

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

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USA TODAY Sports

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.​

A quick start

Strong stars go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a team in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the first.

Andre Burakovsky snapping second period slump

It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked at points this season.

Ovechkin's two-goal third period

Buffalo just would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play form the office. He would later add a deflection goal late to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.

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3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

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3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

The Capitals needed a win in the worst way and they got one, dispatching the Buffalo Sabres in dominating fashion with a 5-1 win.

Washington was locked in a tight game leading 2-0 heading into the third period when Sam Reinhart scored just 14 seconds into the period. The Caps then slammed the door shut, scoring three unanswered goals to put away the Sabres.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Alex Ovechkin: This was career game No. 893 for Ovechkin, tying him for the franchise record for most games played with Calle Johansson. Ovechkin very fittingly celebrated the occasion with two goals. The first was a power play goal from the office. No need for a one-timer on this one, as the Sabres gave him all the time he needed to aim up the shot and wrist it into the top corner. He added a late 

2. Evgeny Kuznetsov: To say the Caps have struggled at the start of games would be an understatement. In the last 18 games, Washington has held the lead after the first period only once. Kuznetsov made sure this game started off on the right foot as he scored just 50 seconds into the game. He turned on the jets in the neutral zone to turn the edge on Jason Pominville then easily skated around a weak, ill-advised challenge from Robin Lehner before flinging the puck into the yawning net. It was the fastest goal to start a game by the Caps this season. It was just the start of what would be a four-point night for the Caps' center as he added three assists.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky had the highlight of the game with his end-to-end goal in the second period to put Washington up 2-0. He looked like he was shot out of a cannon as he launched himself from the defensive zone, streaked down the center of the ice and in on net to slide the puck through the Lehner's five-hole. Look how Burakovsky was able to slice through the Sabres' defense. Buffalo had him surrounded, but could not slow him down at all.