- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 26, 2009

Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves, and the Washington Capitals defeated the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 despite playing most of the third period without Alex Ovechkin because he was ejected.

Ovechkin had the lone goal of the first 40 minutes of this contest. Ovechkin collected the puck between the circles in his own end after a Jason Pominville shot deflected off Jeff Schultz’s skate.

The two-time league MVP carried the puck through the neutral zone and into the offensive end before crossing from the left side of the ice to the right and ripping a shot from the top of the circle that fooled Buffalo netminder Ryan Miller at 6:24 of the opening period.

Ovechkin didn’t finish this game though. Ovechkin was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for boarding Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta 3:38 into the third period.

According to the league rulebook, Ovechkin was hit with the major penalty at the official’s discretion, but an injury to the head or face on a major infraction is grounds for an automatic ejection. Kaleta left the ice holding his nose, and Ovechkin tossed his glove in the air in frustration as he went to the dressing room.

This is the second game misconduct in Ovechkin’s career, and both have come against the Sabres. He was ejected from a game Dec. 2, 2006 during his second NHL season for checking then-Buffalo forward Danny Briere into the boards from behind. Ovechkin was also fined earlier this season after slew-footing Atlanta’s Rich Peverley with 30 seconds left Oct. 22 at Philips Arena.

Eric Fehr gave the Caps a 2-0 lead with 6:22 remaining in the final period. He slammed home a centering pass from behind the net by Brendan Morrison for his fourth of the season.

Varlamov has been spectacular of late, and he was in top form again on this night. His record now stands at 9-1-2 and his save percentage is creeping steadily toward the league leaders, a group that includes Miller.

While Milan Jurcina returned to the lineup after missing six games with a muscle pull, the Caps were still without six skaters from the opening night lineup. Tyler Sloan moved to forward, and to fill out the defense corps the Caps recalled Karl Alzner.

The fifth overall pick in the 2007 draft, Alzner played 30 games for the Caps last season, but this was his first NHL contest this year.