The Washington Capitals trail the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 after two periods at Verizon Center. Buffalo jumped in front 3-0 just two and a half minutes in to the period on Thomas Vanek's 25th goal of the season. With 3-0 game, Dale Hunter decided to make the call for Michal Neuvirth and put starting goaltender Braden Holtby on the bench.
The Caps would eventually get on the board five minutes into the period when Alexander Semin fired a perfect shot off a face-off to beat Ryan Miller. The play was set up off a Buffalo icing call and Semin took advantage with his 19th goal of the year.
The All-Star Jason Pominville pushed it back to a three-goal lead with an ugly shorthanded goal. It was a crucial power play that the Caps needed to convert to get back in it before the second intermission. Instead, the puck took a funky bounce at the blue line and Alex Ovechkin was unable to control it. Pominville wrestled it away on the boards and as Ovechkin tried to retreat and control it, he fell to the ice opening up a two-on-one the other way. Pominville took it himself, putting the brakes on, slowly skating to center and ripping a shot over Neuvirth's left shoulder.
Washington will have to break through against Miller and do it in a hurry if they want to avoid being leapfrogged by Buffalo for the eighth and final playoff spot.