Big first period carries Sabres

Brayden McNabb capped Buffalo’s four-goal first period with his first NHL goal Monday night, and the Buffalo Sabres cruised to a 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals.

Jason Pominville, Matt Ellis and Christian Ehrhoff also scored in the first period for the Sabres, who snapped a three-game skid to improve to 4-6-2 in their last 12 games.

Ryan Miller, making his sixth straight start in the Buffalo net, finished with 20 saves.

Matt Hendricks and Alex Ovechkin scored for Washington, which fell to 1-2-1 in its last four.

Michal Neuvirth started for the fifth straight time in goal for Washington, but was pulled midway through the first period after allowing three goals on six shots. He was replaced by Tomas Vokoun, who allowed one goal on 17 shots.

Buffalo’s depth at forward was bolstered by the return of Jochen Hecht (foot) and Brad Boyes (ankle). They each contributed an assist.

Ovechkin’s power-play goal made it 4-2 with 10:09 left.

After falling behind by four in the first period, Washington broke through on Hendricks’ goal with 17 seconds left in the second period. Standing in front of Miller, he was able to deflect Mathieu Perreault’s shot from the high slot to make it 4-1 after two.

The Sabres struck first with a pair of goals on their first four shots. Pominville opened the scoring with a power-play goal 51 seconds in, converting Drew Stafford’s pass with a one-timer from the inner edge of the left circle.

Ellis made it 2-0 at 3:10 of the first, slipping a backhand past Neuvirth off a faceoff in the left circle.

Ehrhoff then chased Neuvirth with a harmless-looking snap shot from the right point that fluttered in to push Buffalo’s lead to 3-0 with 8:45 left in the opening period.

McNabb made it 4-0 with 5:46 remaining with a power-play goal. It was the first shot Vokoun faced.