Vanek goal gives Sabres OT win

Thomas Vanek scored his second goal of the game with a minute

left in overtime to provide the Buffalo Sabres their first home win

of the season in beating the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Saturday

night.

Steve Montador also scored, while Ryan Miller stopped 23 shots

in his first game after missing six with a hip injury. Jordan

Leopold added three assists for Buffalo, which became the NHL’s

final team to win a home game this season, improving to 1-6-1.

Nicklas Backstrom and Karl Alzner scored for the Capitals, who

had a six-game win streak snapped.

Vanek scored on a great individual effort, driving through the

middle and getting around Capitals defenseman John Carlson. He then

faked a forehand shot before backhanding the puck in behind rookie

Braden Holtby.

The Sabres’ bench erupted in celebration and then smothered

Vanek on the ice. Buffalo (6-9-3) is also starting to heat up,

having registered at least a point in each of its past four games

(3-0-1) – a stretch in which all games have been decided in

overtime or in a shootout.

After Alzner opened the scoring in 8 minutes in, the Sabres

responded to take the lead by scoring twice in the second

period.

Montador tied it at 1 midway through the period, when his shot

from the right point glanced in off the post and past Holtby, who

was screened by Buffalo’s Cody McCormick.

Vanek then scored the go-ahead goal a little over six minutes

later, when Leopold’s shot from the point caromed off two Capitals

defenders and settled to the right of the net, where Vanek swept it

into the open side. It was the Sabres’ first power-play goal in 18

chances, and scored 24 seconds after Washington’s Tomas Fleischmann

was penalized for high-sticking Tyler Ennis.

The Capitals tied it 7 minutes into the third when Backstrom

lifted a shot from the slot that sneaked in just inside the

crossbar.

But Miller didn’t look at all rusty in playing his first game in

two weeks. His biggest save came on getting his left pad out to

foil Alex Ovechkin attempting to stuff the puck inside the post on

a clear-cut breakaway 15 minutes into the first period. Ovechkin

failed to register a point to end an eight-game streak, in which he

had five goals and 10 assists.

Miller also made two solid saves on bang-bang chances in the

final minute of the opening period, first stopping Tyler Sloan’s

point shot, and then getting across to hug the right post to

prevent Marcus Johansson’s shot from a bad angle.

And then, after being thoroughly outplayed in the first period

when the Capitals outshot them 13-6, the Sabres found their legs in

the second.

Even still, the Sabres’ power play struggled, failing to convert

a pair of 4-minute advantages, including a double-minor called

against Backstrom for high-sticking with 2:54 remaining in

regulation.

NOTES: Capitals RW Alexander Semin extended his points streak to

seven games with an assist on Karl Alzner’s opening goal. It also

marked Semin’s first point in seven games at Buffalo. … Prior to

the game, the Sabres honored RW Mike Grier for playing in his

1,00th career game on Nov. 3. … Capitals RW Boyd Gordon did not

play, and will miss about a week after taking a shot to the leg

during a 6-3 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday. The Capitals were also

without D Tom Poti, who has an undisclosed injury. Poti had missed

eight games with a lower body injury, before returning to the

lineup – and scoring a goal – against Tampa Bay. … Johansson

returned after missing nine games with a hip flexor for the

Capitals.