WASHINGTON - Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves for his first regular-season shutout and Alex Ovechkin scored before drawing a third-period ejection as the Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 Wednesday night.
Eric Fehr also scored for the Capitals, who had lost four of five. Varlamov, who had two shutouts in the playoffs last spring against the New York Rangers, wasn't severely tested until the third period, when Ovechkin's absence put Washington at a decided disadvantage.
Ovechkin drew a major for boarding and a game misconduct 3:38 into the third period when he ran Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta into the boards opposite the benches. It was the second-career ejection for Ovechkin, and both have come against Buffalo at Verizon Center. The other was Dec. 2, 2006, when he checked Daniel Briere from behind.
Buffalo has lost four straight.
With six players from their opening-night lineup missing due to injury, the Capitals came up with a strong start-to-finish effort after losing leads in their last two games, both overtime losses.
Ovechkin's team-high 17th goal opened the scoring. Ovechkin made an end-to-end dash, using defenceman Tyler Myers as a screen and beating Ryan Miller on a wrister from the right circle 6:24 into the game. It was Ovechkin's third goal in five games after missing six games because of an upper-body strain.
After Ovechkin was banished, Washington got a break when the Sabres' Craig Rivet was whistled for a tripping minor, creating a 4-on-4 situation. The Capitals eventually killed off the power play to preserve the one-goal lead, and got through another Buffalo man advantage after Mike Green was penalized for delay of the game.
Fehr gave them some breathing room with 6:22 left in regulation, banging home a centring pass from Brendan Morrison from behind the net.
NOTES: A moment of silence was observed before the game in memory of Abe Pollin, who owned the Capitals from 1974 to 1999. Pollin died Tuesday at the age of 85 from a rare brain disease. Funeral services will be held Friday in Washington and a public memorial service is scheduled for Dec. 8 at Verizon Center, which Pollin used his own money to build. ... Washington recalled D Karl Alzner from AHL Hershey. Capitals D Milan Jurcina was back in the lineup after missing six games because of a lower-body injury. ... Buffalo RW Mike Grier returned after missing five games with a groin injury.