Connolly, Sabres End Caps' Streak

Buffalo Sabres, Olie Kolzig
Maxim Afinogenov, top left, and members of the Buffalo Sabres celebrate after scoring the game-tying goal. (Preston Keres - The Washington Post)
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 15, 2007

Given the Washington Capitals' place in the standings, and the number of points they must make up if they are to recover from a brutal start, they can't afford to take off a single shift.

They definitely can't afford to take off several minutes at a time.

But that's exactly what happened at Verizon Center last night, where Buffalo center Tim Connolly scored with 3 minutes 42 seconds remaining to help the Sabres earn a 5-3 victory.

For the Capitals, the mistake-riddled defeat snapped their three-game winning streak and dropped their record to 6-4-1 under interim coach Bruce Boudreau, who was sharply critical of his team's effort and execution.

"The difference in the sense of urgency between their team and our team was quite amazing tonight," Boudreau said. "It's like they said, 'We've got 29 points and if they win they are only one behind us and we're too good for that.' "

Boudreau and his players agreed that two points in the standings were there for the taking. The Capitals even had a goal gifted to them from the boards.

But they couldn't overcome a miscue by goaltender Olie Kolzig and an uneven effort from everyone else.

The winner was scored by Connolly, who had gotten loose in the slot between defensemen Tom Poti and Jeff Schultz. Connolly fired in a rebound to put the Sabres ahead for good, 4-3.

Kolzig went to the bench with 1:41 left in favor of an extra attacker. But rather than cranking up the pressure on Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, the Capitals yielded an empty net goal to Jochen Hecht.

"It's definitely frustrating," Poti said. "It would have been nice to win four in a row at home. We've got to be ready tomorrow."

The Capitals, who remain at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, left immediately afterward for Tampa, where they will face the Lightning tonight before heading to Detroit for a game against the league-leading Red Wings.

Washington's problems against the Sabres began early.

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