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(Sunday, January 12th)
Final Score: Buffalo 2, Washington 1 (SO)
Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - Cody Hodgson registered the shootout winner, as Buffalo snuck past Washington, 2-1, at Verizon Center.
Five previous shooters failed to produce a marker, until Hodgson made several stick fakes and stuck a wrister high and inside the right post to complete the third round and end the contest.
Tyler Ennis netted a power-play score in regulation for the Sabres, who picked up their first win in the era of new general manager Tim Murray and halted an 11-game road losing skid.
"We want to play on the right side of the puck, and we want to create ourselves an identity," said Sabres head coach Ted Nolan. "What type of team do we want to be? Not a team that plays one way for 20 minutes and then slips off for five."
Ryan Miller made 28 saves and improved to 6-1-1 in his last eight starts. One of the three goaltenders in the running to start for Team USA in Sochi, Miller has saved all nine Washington shootout chances this season.
Jason Chimera netted the lone score for the Capitals, losers in five of their last seven. Philipp Grubauer took the loss despite a 30-save performance.
"You want the points. You want to get points every single time you can because it will bite you later in the year," said Caps head coach Adam Oates about the competitive Metropolitan Division along with the playoff chase. "We wanted two points, no question, but the way the game was going I'm glad we got one."
The Caps picked up the opening goal, as Chimera tipped in a Joel Ward offering in the slot and Sabres center Bryan Flynn accidentally redirected it home at 11:01 of the first.
Ennis evened the score in the early portion of a Buffalo power play, sweeping up a Hodgson rebound and beating Grubauer high from the slot at 18:09.
Caps defenseman Karl Alzner's blast zipped by Miller with 53 seconds left in regulation, but the deafening roar of the goal horn and the capacity crowd was wiped out due to a tripping call against Nicklas Backstrom.
That potential game changer came shortly after Miller dove in his crease and smothered a Mikhail Grabovski chance with his stick.
"That's one of those ones where you're just completely out of options," Miller admitted. "The puck came through traffic, hit me right in the pads instead of the stick and I knew I was in trouble. I saw him kind of reload and get in position. I don't think he got quite all of it and he gave me time to put a plate on it."
Washington killed off the penalty but was unable to generate a quality chance in the extra session.
Despite the setback, Washington has won seven of the last nine home games vs. Buffalo since November of 2009 ... The Sabres' last win away from home was Nov. 5, a 5-4 shootout decision at San Jose ... Ward has earned a point in four consecutive games, tying the longest streak of his career ... Capitals rookie blueliner Connor Carrick picked up his first NHL assist with the secondary helper on Chimera's goal.
01/12 22:26:12 ET
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