When the game is for grabs, Buffalo hasn't had much success. Washington, on the other hand, usually takes hold and doesn't let go.
That changed Tuesday.
The teams entered the third period tied, 1-1, and the Sabres pulled out a 3-1 victory in KeyBank Center. Buffalo was 0-2 when tied after 40 minutes, while Washington was 3-1.
The Sabres snapped Washington's three-game winning streak to move to 5-8-2. They are 5-4-1 in their last nine games and 2-3-1 at home.
End to end: Benoit Pouliot gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead with 3:22 gone in the third. The winger picked up the puck in his own faceoff circle and burst up the left side. He danced around one defender, shielded the puck from defenseman Brooks Orpik and ripped a laser past goaltender Philipp Grubauer.
Pouliot has five goals this season, all in the last seven games. He had eight goals in 67 games for Edmonton last year and was bought out.
Seal the deal: The Capitals were pushing hard for the tying goal in the final 10 minutes, but Evander Kane scored his second of the night and ninth of the season with 20 seconds left to seal the victory.
Like he drew it up: Kane opened the scoring, but Jack Eichel did nearly all the work. Setting up for a faceoff at the right dot in Washington's zone, Eichel pushed the puck to the corner and stepped around Capitals center Lars Eller. Eichel then stripped Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik and quickly fed Kane in front.
The left winger buried it with 2:39 gone in the second period.
Defending the boom: Capitals forward Tom Wilson delivered a neck-snapping blow to Sam Reinhart during the second period, dropping the forward with a loud thud. Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe took offense, skating over to drop the gloves with the Washington tough guy.
Buffalo players loudly tapped the boards in appreciation of McCabe.
Wake-up call: The Wilson hit brought the lifeless Capitals back from wherever they were. Buffalo had a 22-8 shot advantage when the blast came, but Washington took six of the final eight shots during the period and tied it, 1-1.
Overcommitted: Devante Smith-Pelley streaked down the right side of the Buffalo zone and sent a pass to his left. Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner seemed to think it would go all the way across the ice, and he slid over to stop a shot from the right circle.
Instead, Alex Ovechkin accepted the pass in the slot, and he easily found the net for his 13th goal with 2:16 left in the second.
Busy but scoreless first: The Sabres tested Grubauer often during the opening 20 minutes, but the Caps goaltender kept sent the teams into intermission tied at 0-0. Buffalo took seven of the first eight shots and finished the period with a 15-4 advantage.
Reinhart, who was averaging just 1.3 shots per game, had three in the first period.
Near misses for Eichel: Eichel threaded a pinpoint pass through a pile of Capitals to spring Zemgus Girgensons, but the winger put his close-range shot wide with 9:30 left in the first.
Later in the period, Eichel and Jordan Nolan entered the Caps' zone with a two-on-one. Eichel tried to toe-drag the defender for a clear scoring chance, but the puck slid off his stick with six minutes left.
Blocked: Defenseman Justin Falk, who has been solid in his opening three games, earned applause after he slid in front of a one-timer by Alex Ovechkin and blocked the power-play rocket.
Roster moves: The Sabres recalled defenseman Zach Redmond from Rochester, and he dressed in place of injured Matt Tennyson. Redmond was paired with Victor Antipin. Jake McCabe played with Taylor Fedun, while Marco Scandella stayed with Falk.
To make room for Redmond, the Sabres placed forward Justin Bailey on injured reserve. He has missed three games with a lower-body injury.
Debut: As expected, Nick Baptiste made his season debut as the left winger for center Sam Reinhart and right wing Seth Griffith. Matt Moulson was the healthy scratch for the third time in five games.
Counting the house: The Sabres announced 17,146 tickets sold.
Next: The Sabres will play their fourth set of back-to-back games this weekend. They host the Florida Panthers on Friday and visit the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.