WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin scored twice, Tomas Vokoun made 25 saves, and the Capitals got one back against their worst nemesis of the season Friday night, beating the Sabres 3-1.
Ovechkin scored in the first and third periods to give the Capitals' captain five goals in seven games. The former two-time MVP has 14 goals on the season.
Nicklas Backstrom scored his 13th of the season — his 100th career NHL goal — for the Capitals. Alexander Semin had a pair of assists.
Jochen Hecht scored for the Sabres. Ryan Miller made 18 saves.
The Capitals have had two of their most deflating performances this season in Buffalo. They lost 5-1 in the last game before Bruce Boudreau was fired as coach. They then fell behind 4-0 in a 4-2 loss on the day after Christmas, showing they still have a ways to go before getting a consistent rhythm under new coach Dale Hunter.
The Capitals came home from Buffalo to play, perhaps, their best game of the season, Wednesday's 4-1 win over the Rangers.
Washington and Buffalo have been hovering close to each other in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference standings, but the Capitals have pulled three points ahead of the Sabres and have won seven of 14 under Hunter.
The game was 27 seconds old when Mike Weber was whistled for a boarding call for a nasty hit on Jason Chimera. Ovechkin capitalized on the ensuing power play, albeit by accident, when his cross-ice pass to Brooks Laich was deflected by Christian Ehrhoff toward the net, catching Miller off guard.
Washington's second goal featured crisp passes in the offensive zone that went from Ovechkin to Roman Hamrlik to Semin to Backstrom.
The Capitals outshot the Sabres 11-2 in the first period, but the Sabres gained momentum in the second and scored when Hecht put in a rebound off a shot by Thomas Vanek. Buffalo outshot Washington 15-6 in the period.
Ovechkin put the game away with a one-timer from high in the slot from a feed by Backstrom with 5:50 remaining in the third.
Fan-on-fan alleged assault: San Jose police are investigating a 16-year-old Canadian girl's report that she was assaulted during Wednesday's Sharks-Canucks game at HP Pavilion while wearing a Canucks jersey. The girl told the San Jose Mercury News a drunken Sharks fan hit her in the head, causing a concussion and a trip to the hospital by ambulance. The Sharks said the other fan told police and arena staff the contact was accidental and occurred during the celebration of a Sharks goal.
around the league: The Rangers waived notorious pest Sean Avery for the second time this season, and he told the New York Post he "guarantees" a team claiming him "won't ever be sorry. … I have a lot to prove, and I have a lot of game left after not being allowed to play my game for the last four years." Avery's agent, Pat Morris, was given permission by general manager Glen Sather to contact teams during the Dec. 19-27 holiday roster freeze about possible trade interest. The wing, whose history includes being suspended and sent to counseling for making derogatory remarks about a former girlfriend dating other players, would come to a new team with a salary cap charge of $1.036 million remaining on the final season of his contract. … Avalanche center Matt Duchene, the team leader in goals (12) and second in points (24) is out a least a month with a left knee injury sustained Thursday against the Coyotes, the team said. … Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski, who signed a six-year, $33 million contract during the summer, fractured his left ankle Thursday against the Stars and is out six weeks. He sat out the first eight games of the season due to a suspension.
world juniors: Red Wings goalie prospect Petr Mrazek made 52 saves to lead the Czech Republic to a 5-2 win over the United States in Edmonton. The loss hurt the medal-round hopes of the United States (1-2). It needed winless Denmark to defeat Finland later Friday to avoid going into the relegation pool for seventh to 10th place. The victory also assured Canada (3-0), with the Lightning's Brett Connolly, would win Pool B and get a bye to the semifinals. The United States plays Canada tonight (8 p.m., NHL Network).
First Period—1, Washington, Ovechkin 13 (Vokoun), 1:42 (pp). Penalties—Weber, Buf (boarding), :27; Ward, Was (slashing), 3:52; McNabb, Buf (hooking), 10:27; Weber, Buf, major (fighting), 12:26; Chimera, Was, major (fighting), 12:26; Ehrhoff, Buf, major (fighting), 16:49; Brouwer, Was, major (fighting), 16:49.
Second Period—2, Washington, Backstrom 13 (Semin, Hamrlik), 3:52. 3, Buffalo, Hecht 4 (Vanek, Pominville), 15:02. Penalties—None.
Third Period—4, Washington, Ovechkin 14 (Backstrom, Semin), 14:10. Penalties—None. Shots on Goal—Buffalo 2-15-9—26. Washington 11-6-4—21. Power-play opportunities—Buffalo 0 of 1; Washington 1 of 2. Goalies—Buffalo, Miller 9-10-2 (21 shots-18 saves). Washington, Vokoun 14-8-0 (26-25).
First Period—1, N.Y. Rangers, Hagelin 7 (Callahan, McDonagh), :35. 2, N.Y. Rangers, Richards 13 (Woywitka), 5:10. 3, N.Y. Rangers, Del Zotto 5 (Richards, Hagelin), 15:37. Penalties—Del Zotto, NYR (holding), 11:00; Callahan, NYR (goaltender interference), 18:28.
Second Period—4, N.Y. Rangers, Dubinsky 4 (McDonagh), 7:41. 5, Florida, Bradley 2 (Gudbranson), 9:28. Penalties—Kopecky, Fla (tripping), 15:14.
Third Period—None. Penalties—Stepan, NYR (tripping), 5:35; Rupp, NYR, major-game misconduct (fighting), 19:52; Del Zotto, NYR (high-sticking), 19:52; Kopecky, Fla, major-game misconduct (fighting), 19:52; Barch, Fla, misconduct, 19:52. Shots on Goal—N.Y. Rangers 15-8-2—25. Florida 7-12-9—28. Power-play opportunities—N.Y. Rangers 0 of 1; Florida 0 of 4. Goalies—N.Y. Rangers, Lundqvist 16-7-4 (28 shots-27 saves). Florida, Clemmensen 3-1-2 (14-11), Theodore (15:37 first, 11-10).