Capitals KO'd In the First

Sabres Score Six In Opening Period: Sabres 6, Capitals 3

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 27, 2006; Page E01

BUFFALO, Dec. 26 -- Daniel Briere and the Buffalo Sabres got even with Alex Ovechkin, all right.

Motivated by Ovechkin's controversial hit on Briere three weeks ago, Buffalo hammered the injury-depleted Washington Capitals, 6-3, Tuesday night at HSBC Arena.

Olie Kolzig, Brent Johnson
Olie Kolzig, right, replaces Brent Johnson in goal after Johnson yields four goals on the first six shots he faced. (Gary Wiepert - Reuters)

Chris Drury scored twice and assisted on two other goals as Buffalo opened a 6-0 first-period lead in a contest that mirrored the Capitals' 7-4 victory on Dec. 2, just reversed.

In that game, Ovechkin was ejected after ramming Briere from behind, sending the Sabres' captain headfirst into the boards. The hit was called "dirty" and "gutless," and although Briere escaped serious injury, it set up a memorable rematch.

And for the 18,690 in attendance, it was certainly that.

Ovechkin was jeered by the capacity crowd each time he was near the puck, and the Sabres scored six times on their first nine shots, chasing goaltender Brent Johnson from the net Capitals' net after only 7 minutes 30 seconds.

"More than half of that was us not being prepared to play," Capitals captain Chris Clark said. "The other half was fluky goals. It just seemed to keep piling on top of us. We settled down after the first, but by then it was too late."

Kris Beech scored for the Capitals with 1:30 remaining in the opening period, Ovechkin tallied his 25th late in the second and Clark got a short-handed goal early in the third.

But Sabres' goaltender Ryan Miller (23 saves), combined with the Capitals' horrendous start, ensured there would be no dramatic comeback.

"They score six goals, but we not stop playing," Ovechkin said. "Today was not our day. Probably the first period, they win the game."

After blasting a shot over Miller's glove and into the net, Ovechkin elicited the night's loudest and most passionate round of boos. He responded by cupping his glove against his ear.

"It was pretty funny when I touch the puck and everybody screaming something," Ovechkin said.

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