Washington Capitals' Jakub Vrana (13) is congratulated for his goal during the second period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Vanecek makes 28 saves in NHL debut, Capitals sweep Sabres

Vanecek makes 28 saves in NHL debut, Capitals sweep Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Vitek Vanecek made 28 saves in his NHL debut, Tom Wilson had a goal and an assist and the Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Friday night to sweep the season-opening series.

Jakub Vrana scored his second goal of the season for the Capitals, 6-4 winners over the Sabres on Thursday night. Rasmus Ristolainen scored for Buffalo, and Linus Ullmark stopped 19 shots.

Wilson gave Washington the lead for good midway through the third period. Nicklas Backstrom dropped the puck off in the right circle for Wilson, and he flung a wrist shot over Ullmark’s glove.

Ristolainen tied it for Buffalo in the opening minute of the third. His snap shot from the blue line wiggled underneath Vanecek’s glove after deflecting off the skate of Wilson, who was defending Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart in front of the net.

Washington went ahead early in the second period on Vrana’s partial breakaway. He took the puck from Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin in the Capitals zone before setting up Vrana.

RETURNING TO THE LINEUP

Sabres C Eric Staal was back on the ice after leaving in the third period Thursday following a hit to the head from Capitals C Nick Dowd. Staal was listed as a game-time decision.

Taylor Hall and Reinhart both went to the dressing room before returning to the Buffalo bench. Reinhart tripped and slid into the end boards during the second period, and Hall took an errant puck to the face in the third. Hall, Buffalo’s marquee off-season acquisition, assisted on Ristolainen’s goal.

SCHEDULE SHUFFLE

Both teams had games rescheduled after the postponement of Friday’s matchup between the Dallas Stars and the Nashville Predators due to positive COVID-19 tests.

Buffalo will now play March 26 at Pittsburgh on March 26 and at home against Pittsburgh on April 19. Washington will play April 10 at Boston. All three games were originally scheduled for the following date.

WHAT’S NEXT:

Capitals: At Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Sabres: At Philadelphia on Monday and Tuesday nights.

___

https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Jonah Bronstein, The Associated Press

NHL

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