The Washington Capitals were shut down by Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller and the rest of his defensive teammates, accumulating 35 shots—but very few second chances—and leave the snowy, windy city shut out for the first time this season, losing 3-0 before a spirited crowd of 17,982 at HSBC Arena.
The Capitals, in the midst of playing nine of 11 games on the road, showed it last night. They played with little of the energy or enthusiasm that was evident as recently as Monday night, a 3-0 shutout win over division rival Tampa Bay.
In that one goalie Semyon Varlamov was sparkling. The young Russian sat this one out, however, with what the team described as a lower-body injury, widely thought of as a strained groin sustained in the scrap Monday night.
In his place was Jose Theodore (L, 7-4-5 3.06, .902), and while the veteran did not have a bad night (25 saves), he did give up a goal from behind the goal line and gave up a huge rebound that the same player, defenseman Henrik Tallinder, followed up and beat him on.
The biggest factor in the game last night, though, was Buffalo's outstanding goalie and potential U.S. Olympian Ryan Miller. Miller has been outstanding all season long, and last night was no different, as he stoned the Caps throughout the night.
Early in the game he robbed Brendan Morrison on the power play, and in the third period he stood on his head on several occasions to keep the scoresheet clean.
Miller made a diving glove save on Morrison again in the third with about 13 minutes left and flicked away a Nicklas Backstrom backhand from close range minutes later.
"Those were two jaw-dropping saves," defenseman Steve Montador, who scored a first-period goal, told the wire services post-game. "There were stretches in the third where we probably could have done a better job, but at that time of the game we had dominated and done a good job of limiting their top line."
The loss prevented the Caps (19-6-6) from continuing their winning streak, which had reached six games.
"You can get to six [wins in a row] and be satisfied and say, 'Hey, we're pretty good.' Or you can say, 'Listen, I want to be great and I want to push the envelope,'" Bruce Boudreau told the media.
"It was the effort on our part," Brooks Laich said. "We're the bigger team, the faster team, the stronger team, and we got outworked. We knew they were going to bring a big effort tonight, and we didn't respond."