Alex Ovechkin’s sliding poke check Sunday saved a short-handed goal against for the Washington Capitals and probably ensured the Minnesota Wild had no chance of escaping Verizon Center with anything. He was making up for a mistake by Dennis Wideman, who called himself a “fish out of water” messing up on the play.
Tuesday night, Ovechkin was on the other side of the ledger, committing a similar error. At the point on the power play, the captain muffed the puck as it came around the boards and Jason Pominville went the other way for the shorty.
“I make mistake on the blue line and it cost us probably the game,” Ovechkin said. “I don’t think we play bad we just make bad mistakes in our zone and the goal on the shorthanded [situation] I should play [the puck with] my skate not stick but it happens. This mistake probably cost us the game.”
It was one of a few big mistakes that contributed, for sure. Braden Holtby’s turnover led to the Buffalo Sabres’ first goal, but the Caps were very much in the game at 3-1 when Ovechkin’s blunder happened.
Buffalo was skating with three defensemen (Christian Ehrhoff and Andrej Sekera were out of the game at the time and Robyn Regehr was in the penalty box), and the Caps had the power play with the chance to make it a one-goal deficit.
Ovechkin botched the attempt to keep the puck in, and that was it.
“I thought we were starting to feel pretty good about ourselves. The crowd was feeling pretty good, I think,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “And that was a real killer.”
Alzner and forward Brooks Laich both empathized on the play itself.
“I’ve been in that position. I’ve turned them over there, too,” Laich said. “There’s two minutes left in the period, it’s right by the door at the bench, there’s a lot of ice, the puck jumps on him, there’s nothing. Sometimes you get bad breaks like that, there’s nothing you can do.”
There was almost nothing Michal Neuvirth could do at the other end of the rink, either, as Pominville beat him. And while Ovechkin was kicking himself, even the Sabres’ captain wasn’t going to hammer him.
“I know from playing defense on the power play it’s not an easy situation. You’re not used to it,” Pominville said. “There’s a bouncing puck that goes behind him and I kind of had a little bit of speed going, so I was able to get right on him. It’s a tough bounce on him, and fortunately it bounced on my side. We were able to capitalize on it and put it away.”