Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 4-1 loss to the Sabres Saturday night in Buffalo:
How it happened: Goaltender Braden Holtby was pulled after allowing three goals on 16 shots and lost in regulation for the first time since Nov. 10, ending a personal streak of 20-0-2. The Capitals’ special teams failed them. The power play went 0-for-4 while allowing a shorthanded goal, and the penalty killers allowed one goal on five Buffalo power-plays.
What it means: The Caps’ five-game win streak was halted.
Tough night for Orly: Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov finished a minus-2. On the Sabres’ first goal, he was just out of the reach of Philip Varone, who beat him to a Rasmus Ristolainen rebound for his first goal of the season 10:30 into the game. Five minutes, 30 seconds later, with the Caps on the power play, Orlov couldn’t handle a Jason Chimera pass back to the right point and chased Tim Schaller all the way down the ice as Schaller made his first goal of the season a shortie.
Holtby yanking: For just the second time this season, Holtby was pulled from a game after allowing three goals before the midway point. Following a Marcus Johansson giveaway at center ice, Sabres forward Evander Kane snapped a shot that went off the catching arm of Holtby and behind him for a 3-0 Buffalo lead.
Makeup play: After the Sabres increased their lead to 4-0 on a power-play goal against Philipp Grubauer late in the second period, Johansson breathed life into the Caps when he scored his 11th goal of the season 2:54 into the third period. Tom Wilson created the play with a hard forecheck against Buffalo defenseman Jake McCabe, who coughed the puck up to Chimera, who whipped a pass to Johansson alone in the slot.
Lineup shuffle: Center Mike Richards made his Capitals debut, centering a fourth line with Zach Sill and Michael Latta. That left Brooks Laich as a healthy scratch for the first time this season. Stan Galiev was also a healthy scratch. Through 43 games Laich had one goal on 48 shots, four assists and was a minus-6.
Richie effect: In his first game with the Caps and his first NHL game since April 9, Mike Richards saw 13:01 of ice time, including 3:16 on the penalty kill and 7 seconds on the power play. Richards had one shot on goal, had another blocked, another miss the net and he was credited with one hit. He was not on the ice for a goal for or against.
Willie effect: Tom Wilson (plus-1) was the only plus player for the Caps. He also led the Caps with six hits and went toe-to-toe in a good fight with Nick Foligno, who tossed Wilson to the ice at the end of the bout and raised his arms in triumph.
Minus: Along with Dmitry Orlov, Justin Williams, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov were also a minus-2.
Look ahead: The Caps and Rangers square off at 5 p.m. on Sunday at Verizon Center. It’s anyone’s guess whether Braden Holtby or Philipp Grubauer gets the start against the Rangers, who are expected to start backup Antti Raanta.
MORE WIZARDS: Ten years later, Ovi looks back on 'The Goal'