BUFFALO, SEPT. 18 -- The Washington Capitals' first preseason game tonight was a success in most areas, the scoreboard being one of the exceptions.

A youthful Capitals defense limited the Buffalo Sabres to 26 shots and the offense produced 34, but it was the Sabres who were the opportunists in gaining a 3-1 victory at Memorial Auditorium.

The Sabres' goals were scored by Pierre Turgeon, Benoit Hogue and Paul Cyr. Turgeon, the National Hockey League's No. 1 draft pick, scored on the first shift and first shot of his professional career.

Buffalo had a 3-0 lead before Bob Gould broke the Sabres' shutout bid at 10:33 of the third period with a 10-foot backhander that eluded goaltender Daren Puppa. A centering pass by Greg Adams set up the goal.

Each team used two goaltenders. Buffalo starter Jacques Cloutier shut out the Capitals for two periods, turning aside 23 shots.

"I was pretty happy overall and with the efforts the guys put out tonight," Coach Bryan Murray said. "There was some pretty good checking and I think both coaches were happy with the goaltending. Both teams had some wide-open chances."

Murray said he was particularly impressed with second-year left wing David Jensen, center Scott McCrory and defenseman Tony Kellin. "Jensen had three quality chances and was in the flow," Murray said. "This was McCrory's first game at this level and I thought he did some pretty intelligent things. And Kellin showed a lot of poise."

Cleon Daskalakis replaced Clint Malarchuk in the Capitals' goal midway through the second period and was beaten twice as the Sabres opened a 3-0 lead. The Sabres took a 2-0 lead at 13:04 when Hogue broke in alone from the blue line and beat Daskalakis with high 15-footer.

Hogue assisted on the Sabres' third goal at 16:47, flicking a centering pass that Cyr pushed past Daskalakis from the crease. The Sabres held a 12-10 advantage in shots in the period.

Although outshot, 13-6, Buffalo scored the first period's only goal on a quick 10-footer by Turgeon at 1:10 off Ray Shepperd's pass from behind the net. Defenseman John Druce was off for cross-checking when Shepperd controlled a loose puck behind Malarchuk and found Turgeon, who put a wrist shot low to the right corner.

The Capitals will play the second of their seven preseason games at 7:35 p.m. Saturday at Capital Centre against the Boston Bruins. Murray said Malarchuk and Pete Peeters will share the goaltending duties, but was undecided on the remainder of the roster.