Buffalo, NY – Matt Hendricks scored the game-winner in the shootout, as the Washington Capitals rallied late for a 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday at First Niagara Center.
Hendricks started the shootout with a successful wrister in close and after both Buffalo shooters came up empty, Alex Ovechkin rifled a quick shot through the five-hole of Jhonas Enroth to send the Capitals to their fourth victory in their last five games.
Ovechkin also the lit the lamp in regulation, while Troy Brouwer and Mike Green added a goal and an assist apiece for Washington, which sits just two points back of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
"There's no room for error," said Green. "We have to win these games, that's the bottom line."
Braden Holtby posted 20 saves and also added his second assist of the season.
Ville Leino recorded his first two goals of the season, while Christian Ehrhoff tallied once for the Sabres, who have registered a point in two straight games despite dropping three in a row.
Enroth stopped 35-of-38 shots in the setback.
"They're pros and they understand the time of the year that is and Wednesday is the deadline and what'll happen will happen," Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston said. "They don't have control over that, so they've been pretty focused."
Buffalo seemed well on its way to collecting two crucial points as it led 3-1 after two frames, but the Capitals battled back with a pair of goals in the third to force an extra session.
The first came early in the period with the Capitals on the penalty kill, as Holtby's clearing attempt from behind the Washington net sprang Brouwer up the left wing. Brouwer then skated into the left circle before beating Enroth to the short-side to make it 3-2 at the 2:43 mark of the third.
Enroth was able to keep the Capitals off the board from there until Holtby made his way to the Washington bench late in regulation. With the extra attacker, Green fired a heavy slapper from the high slot that found iron, but the rebound bounced off the back of Enroth and crossed the goal line to knot the game with 39.2 seconds left.
Neither team managed much in overtime, as the teams combined for just four shots over the extra five minutes to force the shootout.
Buffalo struck first just over three minutes into the game when Ehrhoff won a scrum on the short left boards and skated into the left circle before rifling a wrister high into the far corner of the net for a 1-0 lead at the 3:01 mark.
The Sabres doubled their advantage just 1:19 into the second when Leino lit the lamp with a wrister, but Ovechkin's power-play marker just over a minute later cut the margin to 2-1.
Washington took all three meetings from the Sabres to sweep the season series ... The Capitals improved to 8-9-1 as the guest this season ... Ovechkin extended his point streak to seven games ... Sabres leading scorer Thomas Vanek missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury ... Buffalo fell to 6-6-3 at home this season.