WASHINGTON -- Victories, both moral and actual, have been hard to come by for the Buffalo Sabres.
They've been getting the hang of winning over the past week, though.
A 2-1 victory against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on Saturday gave the Sabres (6-13-2) their third straight win.
"I'm not a big believer in luck," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "I believe that the harder you work, the luckier you get, if there's such a thing. We never gave up. We kept trying to do the same things over and over again, and it's nice to see when you do do that and you do have some perseverance, you get rewarded for it like the last three games."
Matt Moulson and Torrey Mitchell scored for the Sabres, who have scored 12 goals in their past three games. The 12 goals are more than one-third of Buffalo's total offense this season.
Jhonas Enroth made 43 saves on a season-high 44 Washington shots.
"[Washington] is a good team, obviously they're going to get some offensive chances," Moulson said. "We have some stuff that we still need to clean up, [but Enroth] made some big stops, and that's what the goalie is there for, make some big stops when you need it. He played great."
Matt Niskanen scored for Washington, which lost in regulation for the third time in five games.
"It was a weird game, I think," Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom said. "We had most of the game, I thought, and we had the most chances too. It's too bad we didn't score on our chances. Maybe we didn't have enough traffic in front of the net. It's the only thing I can say now, I don't know. I thought we played all right, but it's tough to say that when you lose."
Neither Washington nor Buffalo was particularly crisp during a scoreless first period in which the flow of play frequently fluctuated because of sloppy execution. The best scoring chance for either team came in the final minute when Enroth turned away Ovechkin's stuff attempts near the left post.
Despite being outshot 20-10 in the second period, the Sabres took a 1-0 lead at 10:15 on Moulson's third goal.
The Capitals lost a puck battle along the left-wing boards after winning a defensive-zone faceoff, allowing Tyler Ennis to skate into the high slot before firing a shot wide. Moulson, who was in front of the net, read the carom, retrieved the puck and lifted a backhand over the stick of a sprawling Braden Holtby (24 saves).
"I think we did a little bit of a better job getting pucks towards the net, that's when you start to get bounces," Moulson said. "I got a fortunate bounce, [but] we've got to keep getting pucks to the net."
Ovechkin narrowly missed an opportunity to tie the game with 6:42 remaining in the second period when his snap shot from the slot hit the goal post.
Niskanen tied the game at 5:54 of the third when he beat Enroth with a one-timer on the Capitals' first power-play opportunity of the game. It was Niskanen's first goal as a member of the Capitals (9-8-3) after joining the team as a free agent this summer.
"I think it'll give him some confidence," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "He's played very well. He's arguably as good a defenseman as we've had all year in terms of his consistent play. He's really a sneaky, tough player. Great stick and great sense around our net. Just a real good, poised player. I think that's good for him to score a goal."
Mitchell restored Buffalo's lead at 12:18 during a goal-mouth scramble. Holtby thwarted Brian Gionta's power move with his left leg, but the rebound slid toward Mitchell, who pounced for his third goal. The 29-year-old had two goals in 67 games last season.
Capitals defenseman Mike Green took one shift early in the third period and did not return because of an upper-body injury. He is listed as day-to-day, though Trotz did not believe that the injury was too serious.
The Capitals are off until Wednesday, when they face the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum in the first game of a home-and-home set.
That same day, the Sabres host the Winnipeg Jets looking for their first four-game winning streak since March 2012.
"I thought everyone played really well and battled hard," Enroth said. "I think we stuck to the game plan. Everyone was playing on all cylinders, and it wasn't a perfect game, but we found a way to win."