WASHINGTON — With trade rumors creating plenty of loud chatter, the Buffalo Sabres' road point streak quietly went away Saturday night.
The Sabres gave up a goal to Evgeny Kuznetsov after just 50 seconds and never caught up in a 5-1 loss to the Washington Capitals in Capital One Arena. The Sabres played without winger Evander Kane for the first time this season, as the 20-goal scorer was held out as a healthy scratch in anticipation of a trade before Monday's deadline.
Alexander Ovechkin had a pair of third-period goals for Washington to extend his NHL leading total to 38 on the season and his career mark to 596. Kuznetsov finished with a goal and three assists.
The Sabres had been 5-0-1 in their previous six road games and were trying to get a point in seven straight away from home for the first time since 2011. Instead they lost here for the fifth straight time (0-4-1).
Quick start: Kuznetsov burned the Sabres with a fast rush through the neutral zone that saw him bolt past Jason Pominville and curl past the Buffalo winger to the goal. He outwaited Robin Lehner and simply deposited the puck in the open net. Pominville was covering as Nathan Beaulieu was inexplicably caught up ice.
Lehner on the goal: "He came out flying from nowhere. skilled player, not the guy we want to give up an opportunity to in the beginning. ... They play fast and use their speed. It's really noticeable in the neutral zone how much speed they generate. It's kind of overwhelming sometimes. They come three, four at a time and can all make really good plays."
Bucking the trend: The Kuznetsov goal ended the Sabres' streak of scoring first in five straight road games.
Coast to coast: The Capitals took a 2-0 lead at 13:20 of the second period on a highlight reel goal by Andre Burakovsky, who took the puck in his own zone and carried it the length of the ice. Burakovsky split Rasmus Ristolainen and Beaulieu and then beat Lehner with a one-handed backhand that trickled through the Buffalo goalie's legs.
Sabres coach Phil Housley: "We didn't check well enough to take away their speed. There were some guys that weren't ready to play tonight. It was obvious from the drop of the puck. ... Too many guys carrying the puck right up the middle of the ice and creating offense against us where we should be deflecting everything to the outside."
Cutting the gap in half: The Sabres got right back in the game after just 14 seconds of the third period on Sam Reinhart's backhander over the left shoulder of Washington backup goalie Philipp Grubauer that made it 2-1. It was Reinhart's 14th goal of the season.
The Great Eight: Ovechkin's power-play goal with 9:47 left, a wicked wrist shot from the left circle to the top corner, restored the Caps' two-goal lead at 3-1 and he scored again with 1:24 left on a deflection from in front of Lehner. Ovechkin, who had 11 shots on goal in the game, scored in all three meetings against Buffalo this year and has 30 goals and 46 points against the Sabres in 45 career games against them.
Up Next: The Sabres host the Boston Bruins Sunday at 5 in KeyBank Center. The Bruins may be without standout center Patrice Bergeron, who took a puck to the foot Saturday in Toronto and was seen leaving Air Canada Centre with a boot on the foot. Then it will be time to see who remains on the team past the deadline. The first game after the league swap meet is Wednesday night at Tampa Bay.