Alex Ovechkin’s absence was brief. His impact upon his return was immediate.
Ovechkin, who sat out one game with a lower body injury, scored his league-leading 44th goal, Curtis Glencross notched a goal and two assists and the Washington Capitals defeated the Buffalo Sabres 6-1 on Saturday night.
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Jay Beagle added a goal and an assist for Washington, which broke a 1-all tie with three second-period scores against a Sabres team that played Friday night in Ottawa.
"I think we benefitted a little bit.It is a lot harder trip than people realize," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said of the Sabres travels.
"The first period I thought was pretty even. Then in the second we took it to another level. We pressed them really hard."
Ovechkin added an assist against the Sabres and has five goals in his last three games.
"First couple of shifts were hard because I didn’t skate (for several days), I didn’t feel the puck, and I was not in my game," Ovechkin said, "but after that I feel pretty good, a couple of good shots."
Brooks Laich, Joel Ward, and Marcus Johansson also scored, and Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom had two assists apiece.
Johan Larsson scored for Buffalo, which has lost the first four games of a five-game road trip.
"Playing last night, getting in at three in the morning, I just felt our fatigue really kicked in in the second period," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "We didn’t seem to have any kind of legs underneath us and they took advantage."
With the Sabres playing the second of back-to-backs games, and newly acquired Chad Johnson out with a lower body injury, Buffalo re-called Mike Hackett from Rochester of the AHL to make his second NHL start of the season.
Hackett stopped 19 of 23 shots before being lifted in the second period.
Anders Lindback, who started Friday night’s game, entered after Laich’s goal made it 4-1 at 13:53 of the second period.
Lindback stopped 20 tries, including an Ovechkin penalty shot with 39 seconds left in the second.
The teams were tied 1-1 after one. Washington went ahead when Beagle fed Troy Brouwer in front. Hacket blocked Brouwer’s shot, but Beagle fired the rebound over the sprawling netminder for his 10th goal.
Ovechkin made it 3-1 with a power-play goal at 9:31. The shot came from his usual power-play spot in the left circle, but rather than blasting a one-timer, Ovechkin secured the puck, waited momentarily, then wristed it past Hackett.
"I bit on it and I looked stupid on it," Hackett said. "I mean, that’s why he’s got 40-something goals, right? He’s a pretty special player, but there’s no excuse. I’ve got to stop that puck."
Tom Wilson’s sparked Washington’s fourth goal. He reached up and blocked a Buffalo clearing attempt, then fed Laich, who fired a high shot home for his sixth goal.
It was Laich’s first goal since Jan. 7, and came with girlfriend Julianne Hough in attendance.
"Obviously it’s been a really tough time for myself and it was big relief," Laich said of ending the drought. "This was really nice to score a goal."
Ward and Johansson added third-period scores.
Larsson put the Sabres ahead just 2:35 in, but Glencross got the equalizer for the Capitals less than three minutes later.
It was his 11th of the season and second in three games since coming to Washington in a trade from Calgary.
NOTES: Buffalo D Andrej Meszaraos left the game after being hit by a Brooks Orpik shot in the first period and didn’t return. … The Sabres sent F Mikhail Grigorenko and G Andrey Makarov to Rochester. … Backstrom (418) pulled into a tie for first place on the franchise assist list with Michal Pivonka.