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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Marcus Johansson tipped in Mathieu Perreault's shot midway through the third period to lift the slumping Washington Capitals to a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

Perreault finished with a goal and assist in helping the Capitals win for only the second time in their past six games. Alex Ovechkin had an assist on the decisive goal, giving him his first point in his past five trips to Buffalo, dating to a two-goal outing on March 5, 2008.

Jason Pominville scored for the Sabres, who dropped their third straight and are winless in their past four home games (0-3-1). In the midst of a six-game homestand, Buffalo squandered yet another opportunity to inch closer to playoff contention. The Sabres (27-25-6) remain in ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings, four points behind Carolina....more.

In a game that featured plenty of shots but very few goals, a quirky bounce off the glass ended up making the difference.  With the game scoreless six minutes into the second period, Matt Hendricks dumped the puck into the Buffalo zone along the right wing from just inside the red line.  Instead of the puck continuing around the glass and behind the Sabres net, it took a funny carom off the glass of the Zamboni entrance and bounced right into the slot, where Mathieu Perreault was all alone and slapped it past Ryan Miller for the first goal of the game.  The goal came on Washington’s 22nd shot of the game.

Ryan Miller
Despite ending up on the losing end, Ryan Miller played well enough to win, stopping 37 of the 39 shots he faced as he recorded his second-highest save total of the season.  Miller did his best work in the first period, keeping Buffalo in the game despite being shorthanded on four occasions in the opening 20 minutes.  Miller stopped all 16 of the shots he faced in the first period, nine of which came on Washington power plays, and made a handful of spectacular saves in the process.  Since his streak of 31 consecutive starts came to an end this past Wednesday in Montreal, Miller has appeared in each of the last three games.  Although all three games were losses, Miller allowed just two goals in each of those games and posted a .935 save percentage. 

- The Sabres have now lost three straight games for the first time since Oct. 30 – Nov. 5 when they lost three straight as part of a 0-4-1 stretch.

- During the current three-game losing streak, Buffalo has scored just two goals while allowing seven and being outshot 93-78.

- Jason Pominville scored Buffalo’s lone goal, his 14th of the season and fifth on the power play.  Thomas Vanek and Tim Connolly picked up the assists.

- With the assist, Vanek reached the 50-point mark for the year, giving him at least 50 points in each of the last five seasons.

- Paul Gaustad played in his 400th career NHL game on Sunday and logged 17:41 of ice time while winning 12 of his 21 faceoff attempts.

- Buffalo is now 1-2-0 in afternoon games this season with four remaining.

- The Sabres are now halfway through their season-long six-game homestand with games against Atlanta (Wednesday), Ottawa (Friday) and Detroit (Saturday) still on tap.

- Center Paul Byron and defensemen Andrej Sekera and Craig Rivet were scratched for Buffalo.  Rob Niedermayer was back in the lineup after being scratched on Friday against St. Louis.

- Sekera was a healthy scratch for the first time all season.  The only other game he did not dress for this season was the October 26 game at Philadelphia when he was sidelined with an upper body injury.

- Left wing D.J. King was scratched for Washington while Mile Green missed his fourth straight game due to injury.

The Atlanta Thrashers are next up on Buffalo’s six-game homestand as they come to Buffalo on Wednesday for the first time this season.  The teams played twice in Atlanta back in October, with Buffalo winning the first meeting and the Thrashers taking the second one in overtime.  Buffalo outshot Atlanta by a total of 70-40 in the first two matchups.  Atlanta is led in scoring this season by a pair of defensemen as Dustin Byfuglien (18-27-45) and Tobias Enstrom (8-37-45) have each registered 45 points, making them the only teammates to rank in the top 10 in scoring among NHL blueliners.  The Thrashers are coming off a 5-3 loss to Edmonton on Saturday and do not play again until Wednesday in Buffalo, where the Sabres have gone 5-2-3 in their last 10 games against Atlanta.

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