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Second period sparks Caps in win over Sabres

Sunday, 03.17.2013 / 11:03 PM

The Washington Capitals showed Sunday they're not about to bow out of the race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Six different players on Washington's roster enjoyed two-point nights as the Caps moved within six points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 5-3 win against the reeling Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center.

Jason Chimera scored his first regular-season goal in nearly a year for the Capitals (12-15-1), who broke out of an offensive slump in which they had scored only seven times in five games -- losing four.

Alex Ovechkin got the Capitals going with his 350th NHL goal, scored only 19 seconds in, and Marcus Johansson and Matthieu Perrault also had a goal and an assist each as Washington beat Buffalo at home for the seventh time in eight games.

Cody Hodgson scored twice for the Sabres (10-15-4), who have lost five straight road games and have won just once in seven games overall.

Brian Flynn also scored for Buffalo, which will play four of its next five on the road. Ryan Miller allowed five goals on 25 shots.

"We had times in the game we just didn't have execution, that's the bottom line," Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston said. "Whether it was a faceoff, line-rush against, (defensive) zone, we had several plays where we just had no execution."

Washington busted out of its scoring slump with three goals during a 5:22 stretch of the second period.

Troy Brouwer got it started on the Capitals' first power play when he took Mike Ribeiro's feed and beat Miller to the top left corner.

Four minutes later, Brouwer found Chimera from behind the net for Chimera's first regular-season goal since April 2, 2012.

"I felt like I was playing really well," Chimera said. "I had tons of chances and it felt like goalies made world-class saves against me. It's a good feeling, but the win is more important for our team right now."

Less than a minute after that, Johansson squeezed a shot out of a goal-mouth scrap to make it 4-1 at 10:28.

"We knew we had to be ready, and with a back-to-back we had to be smart, and we ended up running around a bit in the second period again," Miller said. "It's frustrating for sure and everybody's got to be better -- myself included."

Flynn got Buffalo back within two goals at 13:27 off a feed from Marcus Foligno.

Hodgson scored a power-play goal early in the third to make it 4-3 after Jordan Leopold's effort from the left caromed to him off the pads of goalie Braden Holtby (27 saves).

It was Buffalo's first power-play goal in four games.

"I don't think we can really afford to get too frustrated," Hodgson said. "Obviously it's frustrating to give up those goals and then when we do work our way, back we try to stay positive. But at the end of the day, we need to win and it's something we can't keep doing."

Washington killed a penalty later in the period, and just after it ended, Holtby made a full stretch to deny a clear look from Drew Safford.

Perrault scored on the Capitals' next trip into the offensive zone to seal the win with just under five minutes to play.

The Sabres actually outshot the Capitals 17-10 in the second period, and Hodgson scored their first goal just 12 seconds into it when he sneaked a shot past Holtby.

That got the Sabres even. Ovechkin had staked the Capitals to their quick lead in the opening seconds off a faceoff feed from Nicklas Backstrom.

Ovechkin, who leads the Capitals with 11 goals, has scored six times in seven games against the Sabres. Backstrom finished with two assists.

"It's the kind of situation where I have to shoot as hard as I can and hope it goes in," Ovechkin said of his milestone tally. "It goes in, so I'm pretty happy."

The Capitals will now play eight of their next nine games on the road, beginning with Tuesday's showdown at Pittsburgh.

"We talked about that and they know that," Washington coach Adam Oates said. "We have a long road trip and obviously we're going to have tough games and we need [to win] them."

A brief lightning malfunction delayed the start of the third period for about six minutes.

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.

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