RECAP: Alex Ovechkin ties for 6th on goals list in Caps’ win

Mar 15, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19) celebrates his goal during the second period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Ovechkin scored his 717th goal, tying him for sixth on the NHL’s career list, and the visiting Washington Capitals won their season-high fifth consecutive game, a 6-0 rout of the slumping Buffalo Sabres.

Washington rookie Vitek Vanecek faced just 23 shots to record his first shutout. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, Richard Panik, Daniel Sprong and Garnet Hathaway also scored as the Capitals won for the ninth time in 10 games.

The Sabres took their 11th loss in a row (0-9-2) since winning at New Jersey on Feb. 23.

With Washington up 5-0 and 3:39 left in the contest, Ovechkin trailed the play and blasted home his 11th goal of the season and third in as many games. That left him tied with Phil Esposito and in position to claim the sixth spot outright Tuesday night against the visiting New York Islanders.

Vanecek, who ranks among the NHL rookie leaders with 12 wins, was hardly tested for the milestone victory in his 20th career start. He has stopped 144 of 152 shots while going 4-0-1 this season against the Sabres. Vanecek’s most notable save came early in the third period, point blank from Curtis Lazar. Buffalo put 14 shots on net in the last period.

Plagued by some poor defense in front of him, Carter Hutton made 24 saves as the Sabres extended their longest losing streak since dropping a club-record 14 straight in 2014-15. Shut out for the second consecutive contest and sixth time this season, Buffalo is also mired in an 0-8-1 home slide.

Washington outshot Buffalo 13-2 in the first period but was not rewarded until there was 1:14 left in the opening frame. Just as a Capitals power play ended, Kuznetsov drilled a wrister from the far board past Hutton for his 400th career point.

The Capitals padded their advantage by scoring twice within the first six minutes of the second period. Backstrom tapped in a rebound of T.J. Oshie’s shot at the 2:41 mark. Then 3:18 later, Panik blasted a Dmitry Orlov pass from the top of the near circle to make it 3-0.

Off another Buffalo turnover, Sprong scored on a breakaway with 4:53 left in the second period. Hathaway’s fourth of the year came 6:46 into the final period.

Washington’s Justin Schultz, Nick Jensen and Conor Sheary each had two assists.

–Field Level Media