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BUFFALO, N.Y. – Evgeny Kuznetsov scored in regulation and the lone goal in the shootout to lead the Washington Capitals to a 4-3 win over the last-place Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.
Matt Niskanen had two assists for the Capitals, who overcame a pair of one-goal deficits. Curtis Glencross and Mike Green also scored for Washington (38-23-10), which matched last season's win total and opened a four-point edge over eighth-place Boston in the Eastern Conference standings.
Braden Holtby made 30 saves in his 14th consecutive start, and was coming off a 2-0 shutout over the Bruins on Sunday.
Johan Larsson tied the game with 6:10 left in the third, when he deflected in defenseman Chad Ruhwedel's shot from the right point. Tyler Ennis and Cody Hodgson also scored for the Sabres, who dropped to 0-5-2 in their past seven games.
Kuznetsov scored on the Capitals' opening shootout attempt. Slowly winding his way to the net, he finally got the puck on his forehand and snapped a shot just inside the left post.
The Sabres' final chance to score ended when Phil Varone had the puck dribble off his stick while attempting to make a move in close.
The Capitals' power-play unit continued its hot pace by scoring on both opportunities, including Kuznetsov's goal, which put the Capitals up 3-2 early in the third.
With Buffalo's Nikita Zadorov in the penalty box for delay of game, Niskanen set up the play from inside his own zone with a long pass to Kuznetsov at the Sabres blue line. Driving in on a 3-on-2 break, Kuznetsov patiently waited for the play to develop.
Using Glencross as a screen, Kuznetsov snapped a shot into the open left side.
Washington entered the game with the NHL's second-ranked power-play unit, which has scored nine times on 17 opportunities in its past eight games.
Green tied it at 2 early in the second period off a faceoff to the left of the Sabres' net. Washington forward Marcus Johansson corralled a loose puck and ran into the side of the net and fell while attempting to go behind it.
The puck rolled to Green in the right circle, from where he slapped a shot into the open side, with goalie Anders Lindback caught out of position.
Holtby had to be sharp in the final seconds of the second period, when Sabres captain Brian Gionta had a breakaway. Holtby kicked out his right pad to turn aside the shot just before the horn blew.
It was an entertaining first period in which the Sabres showed plenty of jump, managing two goals on 15 shots, and even drew Alex Ovechkin into a fight. It happened 3½ minutes in, when Sabres defenseman Mike Weber's hard check sent Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom tumbling into the end boards in the Buffalo end.
Ovechkin immediately raced in and crosschecked Weber from behind, and then engaged in a shoving match with the defensemen.
With Ovechkin issued a double-minor for roughing, Ennis opened the scoring on a pretty give-and-go with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.
After Glencross tied it with a power-play goal 9:23 in, Hodgson responded by scoring on a backhand 45 seconds later. Hodgson skated into the slot and shoveled the puck at the net. Holtby got a piece of the shot with his blocker, but lost sight of the puck, which popped up into the air and then bounced in off the goalie's back.
NOTES: Ovechkin failed to score in his third straight game. That's the NHL's leading scorer's longest drought since a three-game stretch from Dec. 11-18. ... The Capitals improved to 6-1-2 in their past nine against Buffalo. ... Ovechkin entered the day with an NHL-leading 21 power-play goals. The Sabres got their 21st on Ennis' goal. .... Buffalo recalled Ruhwedel from AHL Rochester earlier in the day to fill in for a banged-up blue line playing without Zach Bogosian (lower body) and Andrej Meszaros (hand).