Caps survive, defeat Sabres | Pro Hockey News

In Buffalo, Ilya Samsonov made 22 saves and helped the Washington Capitals hold off the Sabres in a 6-4 win to open the season.

T.J. Oshie (three points),John Carlson (two points) and Nicklas Backstrom (two points) all had single markers for the Caps in the win.

The game featured Peter Laviolette’s debut as the Caps new head coach.

“I think he’s come in and done a great job of giving us direction and motivation and let us know how he sees us playing and how he sees our identity,” Oshie said. “And I think guys have received that message very well. So to get that win for him on Night One was special.”

Taylor Hall scored once and had two points for Buffalo and Tobias Rieder added a goal in his first match with the Sabres.

Brenden Dillon scored for the Caps to give them a seemingly solid 4-1 lead, before the Sabres potted two goals for a one-goal deficit.

“We expected rust and there was rust, and we expected an adjustment to the physicality and the speed,” Buffalo head coach Ralph Krueger said. “We need to simplify with the puck. We need to make sure that we are more compact defensively. We were a little hesitant. Our defensive game needs to take away the gaps and we need to attack quicker. I thought we were a little bit soft defensively as a group. We kind of fell back. We need to get back on our toes tomorrow.”

Jakub Vrana blunted a Sabres late rally when he replied to a Buffalo goal in the third to make the score, 5-3, to Washington.

“Just from the first day of training camp I think our message for us on the back end, and even for the forwards, is to get more pucks on net,” Carlson said. “We had a couple other chances for most of the game on the back end. We were getting pucks through and trying to create some second-chance opportunities.”

Jake McCabe and Victor Olofsson also scored for the Sabres.

The Caps’ Garnet Hathaway added an empty netter late for the final score in the game.

The Sabres struck once on three power plays and the Caps were able to break through once on two chances with the extra skater.Watch full game highlights here

Carter Hutton made 23 saves in the loss.

“I think you can take solace in the fact that we were able to come back and make it close,” Hall said. “Obviously, we’ve got some guys offensively who can put it in the back of the net and force the issue that way. But it seemed like we were playing catchup all night, which is a tough way to play against any team, but a team like Washington, a veteran team, that’s going to be a tough night. So we were behind the eight ball kind of right from the start of the game and weren’t able to get out in front of things.”