The Buffalo Sabres used a fast start to get back on the right track Monday night.
Brayden McNabb capped Buffalo's four-goal first period with his first NHL goal and the Sabres earned a 4-2 win against the Washington Capitals at the First Niagara Center.
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 made 20 saves in his sixth straight start.
Buffalo's depth at forward was bolstered by the return of Jochen Hecht (foot) and Brad Boyes (ankle). They each contributed an assist.
"I thought that was a great example of the type of hockey we've been talking about for a while," Miller said. "It was quick hockey, move the puck, and support each other. It showed in that first period where we got out of our zone clean, we got into their zone clean, we made things happen and got rewarded for it."
Matt Hendricks and Alex Ovechkin scored for Washington, which fell to 1-2-1 in its last four and 5-6-1 under new coach Dale Hunter.
Michal Neuvirth started for the fifth straight time, 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.
Ovechkin's power-play goal made it 4-2 with 10:09 left.
"They came out hard and we made bad decisions with the puck and gave up bad goals and it cost us," Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. "After the Christmas break, it's usually decided in the first period. We made bad decisions and gave up bad goals. It cost us the game."
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. Buffalo was awarded a man advantage just nine seconds into the game, when Roman Hamrlik accidentally shot the puck into the seats.
"It changed the game," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We capitalized on the early power play and did a nice job early on in the game."
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.
"We have to put the blame on us," Hendricks said. "We need to become a better team from the start of games."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.