The Buffalo Sabres scored on the first shot of the game and a lot of others, including a hat trick by Gil Perreault, as they humiliated the Washington Capitals, 9-2, last night for their first victory of the season.

A Capital Centre crowd of 13,710 hooted the home club, which trailed, 8-0, after 33 minutes and completed a night of futility by failing to score with a two-man, two-minute advantage early in the third period.

"It was a total embarrassment," said Washington Coach Bryan Murray. "From the goaltenders out, not many guys played with any level of anything. After the first shot on net, there was a total breakdown of everything we talked about."

A number of Capitals have been hit by flu and tonight's absentee list included Brian Engblom, Darren Veitch and Craig Laughlin. Others were playing sick and Murray, asked how many, replied, "Twenty. They all played sick." Later he admitted to being facetious and listed eight who were subpar physically.

"But I think they used that as an excuse," Murray went on. "They looked around the room and conceded the two points before they came out. I just don't think they thought it would be that bad. Nine goals -- that should never happen in this league."

Craig Ramsay netted the game's first shot after 32 seconds. Washington rookie Scott Stevens missed on a shot from the left point and Buffalo winger Mike Moller pounced on the puck. He head-manned it to Ramsay, who beat goalie Dave Parro from the left wing circle.

It became 2-0 at 2:24 on a power play rebound by Lindy Ruff, after Washington's Rod Langway failed to clear the zone and rookie Phil Housley set up Tony McKegney at close range. Parro stopped McKegney, then had no chance against Ruff.

Perreault stole the puck from Alan Haworth and scored on a breakaway at 7:43 to make it 3-0, Parro committing himself too soon and paying the price when Perreault slipped the puck behind him.

A 50-footer off Parro's glove by Finnish rookie Hannu Virta, while Stevens served a tripping penalty, brought Pat Riggin to Parro's relief with 1:31 left in the first period.

Rookie Dave Andreychuk's fourth goal in four NHL games, on his own rebound following a Paul Cyr pass, started a similar barrage against Riggin at 5:43 of the second period.

It became 6-0 just 22 seconds later when Andre Savard took the puck from Washington's Milan Novy and scored off Riggin's glove.

Perreault got a short-handed goal to make it 7-0, picking Bengt Gustafsson's pocket at the Washington blueline and flipping a backhander between Riggin's legs on the resulting breakaway.

Housley scored his first NHL goal on a setup by Perreault with Washington's Randy Holt in the box for starting a fight with Brent Peterson. That increased the margin to 8-0 and thoughts turned to Washington's worst-ever defeat, a 14-2 disaster in Buffalo in 1975.

It took Washington seven shots to beat goalie Bob Sauve on a power play with Buffalo's Mike Ramsey off for holding, but Bobby Carpenter finally put in his own rebound with 5:05 left in the second period.

Perreault completed his hat trick by jamming the puck in 25 seconds later. The fans by now were derisively cheering every routine save by Riggin, but the goalie managed to pull himself together and shut out the Sabres in the final period.

Torrie Robertson, one of the Hershey fill-ins for sick regulars -- along with Greg Theberge and Paul MacKinnon -- scored with 58 seconds left to give what few fans remained a chance to howl.

Buffalo, which managed only a tie in its first four games, was extending its unbeaten streak at the Centre to eight. The Sabres have been beaten here only once in 18 games and have lost to Washington only twice in 36 meetings overall.

"We've been kind of snake bitten," said Buffalo Coach Scotty Bowman. "We had a good camp -- we didn't lose to Montreal, Boston or the Islanders -- but when the games counted, we started pressing. We've got a lot of good, young players, but it's going to take time."

Blues 6, Red Wings 0: In St. Louis, Blake Dunlop scored two goals and Mike Liut stopped Detroit for his first shutout of the season.

Dunlop's first goal came on a power play in the opening period. He scored on a rebound of a long slap shot by Jorgan Pettersson.

Dunlop gave the Blues a 4-0 edge on another power play in the second period. Defenseman Tim Bothwell centered the puck to Dunlop, who knocked it past goalie Greg Stefan.

Wayne Babych and Brian Sutter scored in the third period to give St. Louis a 6-0 lead. Dunlop and Babych each have three goals this season.

St. Louis had 42 shots on goal and dominated the play, although Liut had to stop 35 shots. Detroit fell to 0-4-1.