ARLINGTON, Va. — Alex Ovechkin apologized for Russia's hockey performance at the Olympics, a sentiment put in perspective by the encouraging news that his father was on the way home after heart surgery.
Far more upset was Nicklas Backstrom, who remained miffed that an allergy medication he has taken for years cost him a chance to play for a gold medal.
They and the rest of the Capitals had their first post-Olympic practice Tuesday, but the stars were dealing with Sochi's aftermath.
Ovechkin and the host Russians were eliminated in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive Olympics.
"First of all, I want to say sorry to the fans," Ovechkin said. "Because it's once in a lifetime opportunity to represent your country in the Olympics, and you didn't get the results, you didn't get any medal."
Ovechkin's father, who has a history of heart problems, became ill after one of his son's games and had surgery. Ovechkin wasn't told until three days later, after Russia's elimination.
Backstrom was pulled from Sweden's lineup shortly before the gold medal game because he had failed a doping test. Without one of their top players, the Swedes lost 3-0 to Canada.
"I've had allergies for seven years, since I got here," Backstrom said. "Everyone that lives in the Washington area knows how bad it is here. I've been taking Zyrtec-D for the last seven years and I haven't been doing anything differently."
An ingredient in the allergy medicine is on the list of banned substances for Olympic competition, but Backstrom said Sweden's team doctor told him he could take one pill a day without triggering a positive test.
Game highlights: Christian Ehrhoff scored twice, including the winner with 44 seconds left, to lift the host Sabres past the Hurricanes 3-2 in the first league game after the Olympic break. The game was originally slated for Jan. 9, but was postponed after a blizzard hit Buffalo.
First Period—None. Penalties—Scott, Buf (tripping), 7:50; Myers, Buf (interference), 11:32.
Second Period—1, Buffalo, Ehrhoff 5 (Stafford, Miller), 5:54 (pp). 2, Carolina, E.Staal 15 (Faulk), 16:52. Penalties—Nash, Car (tripping), 4:53; Flynn, Buf (delay of game), 6:40; Bellemore, Car (tripping), 14:50; Foligno, Buf (high-sticking), 17:57.
Third Period—3, Buffalo, Ennis 14 (Moulson, Stafford), 12:13. 4, Carolina, Semin 15 (Sekera), 16:00. 5, Buffalo, Ehrhoff 6 (Miller), 19:16. Penalties—D'Agostini, Buf (holding), 1:42; Nash, Car (hooking), 5:46. Shots on Goal—Carolina 11-10-17—38. Buffalo 5-4-9—18. Power-play opportunities—Carolina 0 of 5; Buffalo 1 of 3. Goalies—Carolina, Ward 6-8-5 (18 shots-15 saves). Buffalo, Miller 15-22-3 (38-36). A—18,719 (19,070). T—2:25.