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Sabres beat Caps 3-2 in OT for first home win

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Thanks to Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller, the Buffalo Sabres finally own a victory at HSBC Arena.

Vanek's second goal of the game, a spectacular individual effort with 60 seconds left in overtime, gave the Sabres a 3-2 victory against the Washington Capitals on Saturday night -- their first win in eight home games this season.

Miller, returning after missing six games with a hip injury, did his part with 23 saves -- including one on Alex Ovechkin's first-period breakaway.

"We owe the fans a few, and that was a good team to start it against," a relieved coach Lindy Ruff said after the Sabres became the last team to win a home game this season -- Buffalo had been 0-6-1 at HSBC Arena. They did it by defeating the League's winningest team and ending the Capitals' six-game winning streak.

After a 2-0-1 road trip, the Sabres look like they're starting to put some of the pieces together.

"It was nice to find our game the last three games on the road, and tonight was a big home win finally for us," Vanek said. "It was overdue."

So was Vanek, who snapped a seven-game goal-scoring drought.

Vanek got the winner on a broken play. He caught up to a loose puck in the neutral zone, circled around and drove in up the middle. Vanek burst past flat-footed defender John Carlson to get in alone on net, where he faked a forehand, eluded goalie Braden Holtby's poke check and backhanded the puck into the open left side.

"It felt nice, obviously," Vanek said. "Any time you can contribute to help the team win is great. So far, it's been a rough stretch."

Steve Montador also scored for Buffalo, and Jordan Leopold had three assists.

Washington lost for the first time since Oct. 28 despite goals by Nicklas Backstrom and rookie defenseman Karl Alzner, who scored for the first time in his NHL career.

"Both teams could've won, and I guess it was Buffalo's time today," Backstrom said. "At least we're happy about one point."

Backstrom said the Caps paid a price for a flat second period in which Buffalo outshot Washington 11-4 and got goals by Vanek and Montador to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead.

"We just stopped working," Backstrom said. "The third period was a little bit of a wakeup call for us after the second period."

Backstrom tied it by scoring 7:09 into the third, roofing a shot in from the slot over Miller's right shoulder. Otherwise, Miller showed few signs of rust or aftereffects from the injury.

His save on Ovechkin 15 minutes into the game kept the Caps from taking a two-goal lead. Ovechkin drove in on Miller, who held his ground in the crease and kicked out his left pad just as Ovi attempted to stuff the puck inside the post.

"I was just happy to get it," Miller said. "He set himself up to make that hard forehand move that basically blows the goalie into the net. So I just tried to push as hard as I could into him."

Ovechkin failed to register a point to end an eight-game streak in which he had 5 goals and 10 assists.

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

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