ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) - The Washington Capitals put together an impressive victory and gave goalie Olaf Kolzig a much-needed breather in the process.
Kolzig only needed to make 15 saves, and Jamie Heward broke a tie on a two-man power play early in the third period in Washington's 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.
The game was played at Blue Cross Arena, the home of the Sabres' American Hockey League affiliate.
Kolzig's light night was a welcome change from his last three games, where he faced 40 or more shots in each. Kolzig faced an average of nearly 39 shots in his first eight outings.
"It was great," said Kolzig, who won his fourth game of the year and helped Washington snap a two-game losing streak. "We have to remember to play that way every night. It was just a terrific hockey game for us."
After being blitzed with shots in their first nine games, the Capitals regrouped during a three-day layoff. The adjustments worked to perfection against the Sabres, who were averaging an NHL-high 36.4 shots per game.
"We changed our system a little bit and it seemed to frustrate them," Kolzig said. "Everyone was committed to playing that way, and playing hard all night."
Washington also was able to combat its special teams troubles. The Capitals came in averaging nine minor penalties per game, but were whistled for only six Wednesday. Heward's goal with the man-advantage in the third snapped an 0-for-26 skid on the power play.
"We were struggling in every aspect," Heward said. "We just had a game tonight where we changed some things up and created some chances. We're making strides in that respect. Against teams that have more firepower, that's what we have to do."
Jeff Friesen and Petr Sykora also scored for the Capitals.
Ales Kotalik and Jochen Hecht scored for Buffalo in the Sabres' first home loss of the season, and first defeat in three games.
"They dumped the puck in religiously," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "Their puck pursuit was very good. We did them a favor - almost every time we went up ice, we tried to turn it over."
Heward fired a slap shot into the top right-hand corner of the net with five seconds remaining on Washington's two-man advantage. Kotalik was called for tripping 2:27 into the period, and Rory Fitzpatrick was sent off for holding 13 seconds later.
Kolzig made the goal stand up with a nice kick save on Fitzpatrick's shot with less than five minutes to go.
"We just stayed with it," said Heward, who spent the last three seasons playing in Switzerland. "We got to pucks and got rewarded for it. It's nice to get a good power-play goal finally."
Kotalik opened the scoring on a power-play goal with 5:22 left in the first period, beating Kolzig with a slap shot from the right point.
Washington countered 22 seconds later, with Friesen picking up a loose puck in front of the Buffalo net and wristing a shot past Ryan Miller.
The Capitals took a 2-1 lead early in the second when Sykora converted a pass from Matt Pettinger on a 2-on-1 break. The goal was upheld by video review after Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder slid into Miller, who lifted the net off its pegs, but only after the puck crossed the goal line.
Hecht tied it at 2 at 1:18 of the third.
Steve Eminger added two assists for Washington.
"It's a refreshing change," Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said about Kolzig's less-than-busy night. "The strength of our hockey team is our goalie. When you abuse your goalie to 40 shots a night, it's hard to use that as your strength."
Miller was denied a chance to become the first rookie since Ed Belfour in 1990 to win seven games in October. Miller has played in every game for Buffalo this season.
"We can chalk (the loss) up to a bad night," he said.
Notes: The Sabres last played a regular-season game in Rochester in November 2003, a 2-2 tie with New Jersey. ... Washington D Bryan Muir returned to the lineup for the first time since aggravating his groin injury on Oct. 12 against Carolina. He assisted on Heward's goal. ... Sabres G Mika Noronen has been scratched for all nine games this season. ... Rookie LW Alexander Ovechkin recorded an assist, and has points in nine of 10 games. ... Washington's scheduled game Saturday night in Florida has been postponed because of Hurricane Wilma.