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Buffalo downs Washington with big first period

Dec 27, 2011 - 4:08 AM
Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Christian Ehrhoff scored the eventual game- winning goal during an explosive four-goal first period, as the Buffalo Sabres topped the Washington Capitals, 4-2, at First Niagara Center.

Jason Pominville, Matt Ellis and Brayden McNabb lit the lamp, while Ryan Miller made 20 saves in the victory for the Sabres, who snapped their three- game skid.

Alex Ovechkin and Matt Hendricks scored for the Capitals, who have lost two straight since beating Nashville, 4-1, on December 20. Michal Neuvirth gave up three goals on six shots in the loss and Tomas Vokoun stopped 16-of-17 pucks fired his way in relief.

Washington did not exactly get off to a flying start. Roman Hamrlik was given a delay of game penalty for lifting the puck over the glass in the defensive zone just nine seconds into the contest.

On the ensuing power play, Drew Stafford worked his way into the slot and dished to Pominville, who made no mistake, firing the puck past a fallen Neuvirth from the left circle for a 1-0 lead just 51 seconds into the game.

"It changed the game," Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said of Hamrlik's early blunder. "We capitalized on the early power play and did a nice job early on in the game."

After a key offensive zone draw win by Luke Adam, Ellis swooped in off the left wing and shuffled a backhander on goal from the left circle that just squeezed inside the far post to give the Sabres a 2-0 advantage at 3:10 of the opening stanza.

Buffalo increased its lead to 3-0 at 11:15 of the first period when Ehrhoff took a pass at the right point from Jochen Hecht and wristed a shot on net that beat Neuvirth high on the blocker side, sending the Caps' netminder to an early shower.

With the Sabres on the power play following a penalty to Ovechkin for tripping, McNabb brought the puck into the offensive zone on the right wing and sent a pass down to Brad Boyes in the right circle. Boyes then sent it back to McNabb and the rookie fired it past Vokoun from the slot at 14;14 for his first NHL goal and a 4-0 Sabres lead.

The Caps finally produced a goal with just 17 seconds remaining in the second period when Mathieu Perreault fired a shot from the slot that got through traffic, deflected off Hendricks in front and got past a screened Miller to make it 4-1.

Washington pulled to within two at 9:51 of the final period on the power play when Nicklas Backstrom brought the puck into the offensive zone on the right wing and found Ovechkin, who wristed one past Miller from the slot. But it wasn't enough as the Sabres held on for the win.

"They came out hard and we made bad decisions with the puck and gave up bad goals and it cost us," Capitals head coach Dale Hunter said.

Game Notes

Monday marked the second of four meetings this season between these two teams...Buffalo leads the all-time series, 82-40-16...The Sabres are 12-2-3 when forward Derek Roy records a point...Buffalo finished 2-for-5 on the man advantage, while Washington went 1-for-4 on the power play...The Sabres will head to New Jersey to battle the Devils on Wednesday, while the Caps will return home to face the New York Rangers, also on Wednesday.

    BUFFALO: 4

    Dec 26 9:28 PM

  • Washington Power-Play Goal - Alex Ovechkin (12), from Nicklas Backstrom and Dennis Wideman at 9:51.

    Capitals 2, Sabres 4  3rd - 10:09Dec 26 9:09 PM

    BUFFALO: 4
    End of 2nd

    Dec 26 8:36 PM

    BUFFALO: 4
    2nd Period - 0:17

    Capitals 1, Sabres 4  2nd - 0:17Dec 26 8:35 PM

    BUFFALO: 4
    End of 1st

    Dec 26 7:47 PM

  • Buffalo Goal - Brayden McNabb, at 14:14.

    Capitals 0, Sabres 4  1st - 5:46Dec 26 7:34 PM
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    Capitals 0, Sabres 4  1st - 5:46Dec 26 7:34 PM

  • Buffalo Goal - Christian Ehrhoff, from Jochen Hecht and Thomas Vanek at 11:15.

    Capitals 0, Sabres 3  1st - 8:45Dec 26 7:28 PM
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    Capitals 0, Sabres 3  1st - 8:45Dec 26 7:28 PM

  • Buffalo Goal - Matt Ellis (2), at 3:10.

    Capitals 0, Sabres 2  1st - 16:50Dec 26 7:15 PM

  • Buffalo Power-Play Goal - Jason Pominville (12), from Drew Stafford and Jordan Leopold at :51.

    Capitals 0, Sabres 1  1st - 19:09Dec 26 7:10 PM

    BUFFALO: 0
    1st Period - 20:00

    Dec 26 7:08 PM
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    Derrick Willard Added 5 roots

    Capitals vs. SabresDec 23 8:11 PM
  • 16
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    Capitals vs. SabresJun 24 6:02 AM