Capitals hang on to defeat Sabres in season opener


BUFFALO T.J. Oshie had a goal and two assists for the Washington Capitals in a 6-4 win against the Buffalo Sabres in the season opener at KeyBank Center on Thursday.

John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom each had a goal and an assist, and Alex Ovechkin had two assists for Washington. Ilya Samsonov made 22 saves.

Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist, and Tobias Rieder scored also in his first game with Buffalo. Carter Hutton made 23 saves.

It was the Sabres’ first game in 311 days. They were not among the 24 teams in the NHL Return to Play Plan after last season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

Backstrom made it 1-0 at 5:43 of the first period, taking a pass from Ovechkin to the left of the net.

Hall tied it 1-1 on the power play when he redirected a Victor Olofsson pass in front at 8:48.

Oshie pushed a loose puck in the crease to put the Capitals ahead 2-1 on the power play at 10:33.

Carlson extended it to 3-1 at 7:05 of the second period, breaking in along the right wing on a slow line change by Buffalo before cutting in and beating Hutton on the far side.

Brenden Dillon‘s shot through traffic off a Washington face-off win made it 4-1 at 13:23. It was the defenseman’s second goal in his past 143 games.

Rieder made it 4-2 on a wraparound to the right of Samsonov at 18:46.

Jake McCabe scored 20 seconds into the third period to narrow it to 4-3, but Jakub Vrana capitalized on a turnover 26 seconds later to make it 5-3.

Sabres forward Eric Staal left the game at 9:23 of the third period after getting hit by Nic Dowd.

Olofsson made it 5-4 with a shot from the right circle at 18:06. Garnet Hathaway scored into an empty net at 18:57 for the 6-4 final.

Defenseman Zdeno Chara played 20:16 making his debut for Washington.

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