Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 5-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres Sunday night at Verizon Center:
How it happened: Troy Brouwer, Jason Chimera and Marcus Johansson scored in a span of 5:22 in the second period, turning a 1-1 game into a 4-1 lead. The Sabres rallied to within 4-3 on goals from Brian Flynn and Cody Hodgson but Matty Perreault finished them off with a goal with 4:55 left.
What it means: The Capitals [12-15-1, 25 points] catapulted themselves over the Sabres [10-15-4, 24 points] and into a 12th-place tie with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have an identical 12-15-1 record. The Caps are now six points behind eighth-place Carolina and seven behind the Southeast Division-leading Winnipeg Jets.
Early start: Alex Ovechkin’s goal 19 seconds into the game marked the fastest goal of the season for the Capitals.
Did you notice? Super pest Steve Ott was thorn in the Capitals’ side all game, hitting Tom Poti from behind, mugging Nicklas Backstrom and goading Steve Oleksy into a fight then skating away to draw a roughing minor.
Another injury: The Capitals’ blue line took another hit when Tom Poti left the game with an upper body injury and did not return. Poti was hit from behind by Steve Ott, who leads the Sabres in hits this season.
Lineup changes: Forwards Wojtek Wolski and Aaron Volpatti were healthy scratches. Mathieu Perreault returned to the lineup and centered a third line with Jason Chimera and Joel Ward. The other lines had Nicklas Backstrom between Marcus Johansson and Alex Ovechkin; Mike Ribeiro between Eric Fehr and Troy Brouwer; and Jay Beagle between Joey Crabb and Matt Hendricks.
What’s next: The Caps hit the road Monday for four straight games [at Pittsburgh Tuesday, at Winnipeg Thursday and Friday] at New York Sunday. Seven of their next eight are on the road, where they are 4-8-1 this season.