Capitals regain Metropolitan Division lead with shootout loss to Sabres
Ovechkin scores 48th goal of season; Buffalo ends six-game skidby Heather Engel / NHL.com Independent Correspondent
BUFFALO -- The Washington Capitals moved into sole possesion of first place in the Metropolitan Division with a 3-2 shootout loss against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Monday.
Alex Ovechkin tied for the NHL lead with his 48th goal of the season, and Dmitry Orlov also scored for Washington (41-20-8), which is one point ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. Braden Holtby made 24 saves.
"We want to leave here with two points," Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. "It's not what we were looking for, but I am happy with the fact we didn't stop playing and had chances to end it like they did before even getting into the overtime."
[WATCH: All Capitals vs. Sabres highlights]
Dominik Kahun scored the deciding goal in the seventh round of the shootout for Buffalo (30-31-8), which ended a six-game losing streak. Linus Ullmark returned after missing 17 games with a lower-body injury and made 33 saves, and Rasmus Dahlin had two assists.
"You want to be with the team, you want to be in the mix, you want to be there and do what you do best," Ullmark said. "Obviously you can't buy the feeling of winning, so it was great to get the first win here."
Video: WSH@BUF: Kahun, Ullmark propel Sabres to SO win
The Capitals rallied with two goals in the third period. Ovechkin made it 2-1 from the slot off a face-off at 3:33 of the third period. He is tied with Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak for the most goals in the NHL.
Orlov tied it 2-2 at 13:11 when his point shot went off Sabres defensemen Brandon Montour's stick, then Rasmus Ristolainen's skate.
"At this time of year, we want to be extending to the next level [but] we're staying average," Holtby said. "We've got to find a way to push forward here. If we play the game tonight, we're not going to win any more than we lose, and that's not a recipe for the success we want to have.
"We get a point, but that's not what we're looking at. We're looking at improving our game. We've got to find a way to use this last stretch to really improve."
Video: WSH@BUF: Orlov scores off defender's skate in front
Victor Olofsson took a pass from Marcus Johansson in the right circle and scored at 4:53 of the first period to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead.
Jack Eichel ended a seven-game point drought with a one-timer from the left circle for a power-play goal at :53 of the second period.
"[Eichel] just looked a lot more comfortable today, and I think he's let go of some of that pressure that he was feeling and he's sharing it with the team," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "As a result, just a really strong game from him today. Really pleased to see him get that goal and let's have some fun playing these games coming up here."
Video: WSH@BUF: Eichel bures one-timer from circle for PPG
They said it
"We've got to play every minute, every moment of the game. Tonight, we played parts of it. It's frustrating that way. Like we say, adversity is something that can make you strong, but it seems like it's taking some time to make us stronger. It's time now to get going. That comes from our leadership group on out. It's time to push forward." -- Capitals goalie Braden Holtby
"He was real good. He made some big saves. I thought he had great, great rebound control, which is big, especially against this team. They've got some skill guys and they've got some guys that can roll around. They can create some sort of havoc in front of your net. He was real calm all night. Obviously in the shootout, he was huge. He played pretty great for us." -- Sabres forward Jeff Skinner on goalie Linus Ullmark
Need to know
It was Ovechkin's 706th NHL goal; he is two behind forward Mike Gartner for seventh on the all-time list. … The Capitals have not won consecutive games since Feb. 23 and 25. … Ullmark is 4-2 in the shootout in his career; his .840 career save percentage in shootouts is third among active NHL goalies (minimum two shootouts). … The Sabres ended an 0-for-17 drought on the power play.
Capitals: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSWA, FS-D, NHL.TV)
Sabres: At the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; TSN2, RDS, MSG-B, NHL.TV)