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Miller, Sabres shut out sluggish Caps

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Well, the Caps streak of holding a lead in 30 straight games is over. Buffalo scored early, got 35 saves from Ryan Miller and knocked off the Washington Capitals, who were riding a six-game winning streak. A couple of players and Bruce Boudreau praised Miller for his effort, but also questioned their own.

Was it complacency from a six-game winning streak? Was it complacency from moving to the top of the NHL standings? Was it weariness from spending six nights on the road? Yes — to all of those things.

“It looked like we were happy with six [straight wins] and complacent because they’re not used to smelling the air that they’re at,” said Boudreau, who also said the team had “a lot of passengers toinght.” “It is quite different from being the hunter to being the hunted.”

Brian Pothier did not play in the last 28 minutes, and there was no update on his status after the game. He blocked a shot with his leg/knee early in the second period, but did take three more full shifts before leaving.

Shaone Morrisonn missed about six minutes during the second period but returned. When Mike Green went to the penalty box for high-sticking, the Caps were missing half of their defensemen from the start of the game. Tyler Sloan took one shift back there — the one Nathan Gerbe scored on — but Boudreau said Sloan was not at fault on the play.

Another Tyler, Mr. Myers, logged nearly 26 minutes for the Sabres and was on the ice against Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom a ton. Myers was credited with six giveaways, but he also had EIGHT blocked shots and used his Pterodactyl-esque wingspan to frustrate the Caps top guns.

Ovechkin finished with six shots on net, but no real great chances among them. His shanked his best chance — a one-timer very early in the first period — and then looked upward in disgust.

Here’s a couple of stats to consider:

1) Since November 1, the Caps are 9-0-2 against teams that were outisde the top eight of their respective conferences heading into tonight’s games … and 2-4-1 against the other 15 “playoff” teams.

2) The Caps are 7-0 against the Southeast Division and 12-12 against the rest of the league.

Yes, it is 12-6-6 on paper, but fewest regulation losses doesn’t win in the playoffs — wins do. And yet the Caps are atop the Eastern Conference standings for sure and still No. 1 in the NHL for now (San Jose could pass them and is playing right now). This game is pretty easy to explain away (travel, complacency, etc.), but now you know why some guys on the team keep saying there is room for improvement.

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