The Buffalo Sabres made their final meeting of the 2020-21 season with the Washington Capitals a memorable one, as the blue and gold went to Capital One Arena and dispatched the home team by a final score of 5-2. Dustin Tokarski grabbed the win for Buffalo between the pipes; his first NHL victory in over five years.
The Sabres grabbed the first goal of the night with 70 seconds left in the first period. Dylan Cozens took a shot from the point that was deflected by Sam Reinhart in behind Capitals goalie Vitek Vanecek. It was Reinhart's team-leading 15th goal of the season.
Washington had a quick answer, though, as just 47 seconds later, it was defenseman Dmitry Orlov knotting the score with his sixth goal of the campaign.
The Sabres re-claimed their lead about a minute-and-a-half into the middle stanza, when Victor Olofsson capitalized on a missed pass by the Capitals.
It was Olofsson's 12th goal of the year.
Later in the second, Buffalo's lead swelled to two goals when Casey Mittelstadt showed off his emerging skills. The forward skated down the left wing for a shorthanded opportunity, before wiring a wrist shot up over the left shoulder of Vanecek.
The multi-goal edge for the Sabres wouldn't last long, as the Capitals pushed back four minutes later. With a delayed penalty looming against the blue and gold, Washington scored on the 6-on-5 opportunity. Trade deadline acquisition Anthony Mantha deposited his second goal with the Capitals past Tokarski.
Buffalo kept pushing, though, and applied more pressure on the home team when their own deadline newcomer got in on the fun.
After being acquired from the Boston Bruins on Monday in the Taylor Hall deal, Anders Bjork registered his first goal with the Sabres.
Bjork's goal also sent Vanecek to the showers, as he was pulled by head coach Peter Laviolette in favor of veteran Craig Anderson.
The only goal in the third period of play came with a vacated net, as Tage Thompson put a bow on the 5-2 win with an empty-net tally.
As the final horn sounded, it also broke a lengthy streak for Tokarski. The veteran netminder earned his first win in the National Hockey League since Dec. 12, 2015, finally ending his long journey towards attaining another victory.
Amazingly, Capitals netminder Craig Anderson was also involved in Tokarski's last win. Anderson was the losing goaltender when his Ottawa Senators were defeated by Tokarski's Montreal Canadiens, 3-1.
Losi and Gangi Three Stars of the Game:
1.) Nicklas Backstrom - WSH
2.) Anders Bjork - BUF
3.) Dylan Cozens - BUF
The blue and gold return home to host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon at KeyBank Center. Puck drop is set for 3 p.m. ET with the Paul William Beltz Pregame Show with Brian Koziol starting at 2 p.m. ET. Saturday's game will be televised on NBC, so the only place to catch Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray on the call is on the radio home of the Sabres - WGR Sports Radio 550.