Sabres Control Capitals – Reinhart Nets Hat Trick

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Sam Reinhart scored three goals and the Buffalo Sabres snapped a four-game skid with a 5-2 victory over the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

Jack Eichel had two assists in picking up his 66th point — two more than the fourth-year player’s career high set last season. Rookie Rasmus Dahlin and Jason Pominville also scored in a game in which the Sabres never trailed.

Carter Hutton stopped 31 shots, and Buffalo snapped a 0-3-1 skid while topping the three-goal mark for the first time in eight games, dating to a 6-5 overtime loss to Carolina on Feb. 7.

Buffalo Sabres goalie Carter Hutton
Buffalo Sabres goalie Carter Hutton (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

The Sabres avoided a major scare when leading scorer Jeff Skinner was helped off the ice five minutes into the second period and was unable to place any weight on his left leg. Skinner, however, returned for the start of the third period.

Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading 44th goal for the Capitals, while extending his goal streak to five games. Andre Burakovsky also scored for Washington, which squandered a chance to win three straight for the first time since Jan. 6-10.

Braden Holtby stopped 33 shots in dropping to 6-8-2 in his past 18 appearance. Holtby has allowed 59 goals over that span and has failed to win consecutive starts.

The Sabres showed no signs of being the team that coach Phil Housley described as “soft” a week earlier when they closed a seven-game homestand with a 6-2 loss to the New York Rangers.

Buffalo jumped to a 2-0 led in the first period. The Capitals cut the lead to one in the second period before Reinhart capped the third hat-trick of his career by scoring into an empty net with 56 seconds left.

Ovechkin had cut the Sabres’ lead to 2-1 in the second by scoring on a breakaway 2:28 into the frame.

Dahlin responded with a power-play goal with 31 seconds remaining in the period, and Nic Dowd serving a tripping penalty for upending Buffalo’s Nathan Beaulieu in the corner.

Rasmus Ristolainen started the play by feeding Eichel in the left circle. Eichel then immediately fed the puck through the middle to an open Dahlin, who one-timed a shot inside the right post before Holtby could get across.

Buffalo had another response in the third period after Washington’s Burakovsky tipped in Christian Djoos’ point shot 4:16 into the frame.

Reinhart scored 1:23 later by deflecting in Matt Hunwick’s shot from the blue line.

NOTES: Sabres F Kyle Okposo told The Associated Press that he’s feeling good while recovering from his third concussion in less than three years. Okposo has begun skating on his own and spoke while watching the game form the press box, eight days after being felled by a punch to the face during a fight with New York Rangers defenceman Tony DeAngelo. … Sabres C Casey Mittelstadt did not play due to illness. … LW Carl Hagelin made his debut with the Capitals, two days after the eighth-year player was acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings. … Capitals D Nick Jensen did not play a day after being acquired in a trade with Detroit. Coach Todd Reirden wanted to ease Jensen in and expects him to play against the New York Rangers on Sunday.


Capitals: Host Rangers on Sunday.

Sabres: At Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.


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John Wawrow, The Associated Press