BUFFALO, NOV. 20 -- The Washington Capitals found a new way to lose tonight. Mike Foligno shattered a third-period tie and his stick on the same knuckleball shot as the Buffalo Sabres rallied to defeat the Capitals, 5-3.
Washington took advantage of Buffalo penalties to build a 3-2 lead after two periods. Then the Capitals collapsed under the weight of their own fouls and a 16-8 shooting advantage for the Sabres, dropping their sixth decision in seven games.
Overlapping penalties to Greg Adams and Bengt Gustafsson gave Buffalo a two-man advantage for a potential 46 seconds early in the third period. The Sabres used up 40 applying tremendous offensive pressure before Dave Andreychuk put a second rebound through Pete Peeters to tie it.
A high-sticking major to Buffalo's Scott Arniel seemingly gave the Capitals five minutes to regain the lead, but it quickly was neutralized by a holding call against Dave Christian. Seven seconds before Christian was due out of the box, Dale Hunter joined him for hooking.
Arniel and Hunter were still off when swift defensemen Phil Housley and Calle Johansson led a rush into the Washington end. Johansson pulled up in the right-wing corner and passed out to Foligno, trailing the play down the middle. He swung and the puck fluttered just under the crossbar. Although more than 10 minutes remained, Buffalo was ahead to stay.
"It was a weird shot," Foligno said. "Calle Johansson and Phil Housley took it up the ice and all of a sudden we had two forwards playing defense and two defensemen playing forward.
"I came late in the slot and when Calle sent me the pass, I wanted to one-time it, because there was nobody in front and I didn't want to give Pete Peeters time to get set.
"But my stick broke on the shot. It wound up like a weird chip shot, getting the club too far under the ball in a sand trap. I'll take it just the same."
After Foligno completed his Sabre dance to celebrate the goal, Buffalo did an excellent job of shutting down Washington's offense. Rookie goalie Daren Puppa was tough in the key spots, foiling a tough backhander by Ed Kastelic with 4:10 left and Hunter's drive off a Greg Adams feed with 3:25 remaining.
Lindy Ruff finally sealed the Capitals' fate on an empty-net goal with 26 seconds on the clock. That averted Washington's eighth one-goal defeat in 10 setbacks.
"Because of injuries, we have a very young defensive corps and I was awfully happy to see our young guys play so well down the stretch," said Buffalo Coach Ted Sator. "We've been a wounded-dog hockey team. My hardest job has been getting healthy bodies on the ice."
Washington Coach Bryan Murray has a healthy team, but trying to get the forwards to score has become a distressing problem. Tonight, the only score from up front was Michal Pivonka's first goal of the season, as the others came from the old reliables, defensemen Scott Stevens and Larry Murphy.
Each team recorded two power-play goals as referee Paul Stewart issued 30 penalties, 14 for 39 minutes to Washington, 16 for 38 to Buffalo.
It took the Sabres only six seconds after Washington's Paul Cavallini drew the first of those penalties for Ray Sheppard to put Buffalo in front at 2:32 of the first period.
"We got behind on the first drop of the puck on the first power play," said Murray. "We played pretty well five on five, but it became a special teams game and some of our guys got tired. The way things are going, you just can't double up power-play guys and penalty killers. They never come off the ice."
An unassisted goal by Stevens, who picked off a Buffalo clear at the left point, created a 1-1 tie. Lou Franceschetti then pounced on the puck after it caromed off the rear boards past Puppa and it went into the net off his skate. Referee Paul Stewart washed out what would have been Franceschetti's first goal because it was kicked into the net.
Pierre Turgeon's rebound then gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead. But one play turned the game around again.
Paul Cyr tackled Franceschetti and, during the delay, Ed Hospodar first was guilty of tripping Stevens and then threw Garry Galley down. Although Stevens was assessed a roughing minor, the Sabres still wound up two men short for a potential two minutes.
After Puppa made a great glove save on Hunter, Murphy beat him with a 40-footer down the middle to create a 2-2 tie.
Pivonka netted his own rebound with Buffalo's Steve Dykstra off for holding. By this time, many in the crowd of 14,941 were whistling and tossing debris at Stewart.
The first indication that the penalty tide was turning came when Stewart added a 10-minute misconduct to a cross-checking minor against Murphy late in the second period. In the third, it was Washington's turn to pay the price.
Saturday, the Capitals will play in Hartford, where the Whalers thrashed Buffalo, 9-1, Wednesday. The Sabres, rebounding from that disaster, have not lost two in a row all season.
"We have a lot of pride," Foligno said. "When we do lose, we know what the reasons are and we get together to do something about it. When we keep it close like we did tonight, we have pretty good luck."
FIRST PERIOD SCORING -- 1, Buffalo, Sheppard 7 (Andreychuk, Krupp), 2:32 (pp). 2, Washington, Stevens 2, 5:35. PENALTIES -- Cavallini, Was (holding), 2:26; Ramsey, Buf (tripping), 7:21; Hospodar, Buf, double minor (roughing), 10:46; Langway, Was (roughing), 10:46; Adams, Was (high-sticking), 12:47; Cyr, Buf (high-sticking), 12:47; Napier, Buf (holding), 16:01; Hunter, Was, minor-major (high-sticking, fighting), 16:51; Cyr, Buf, minor-major (high-sticking, fighting), 16:51; Krupp, Buf (cross-checking), 19:13.
SECOND PERIOD SCORING -- 3, Buffalo, Turgeon 6 (Ruff, Sheppard), 9:15. 4, Washington, Murphy 3 (Galley, Christian), 11:00 (pp). 5, Washington, Pivonka 1 (Hunter, Murphy), 15:16 (pp). PENALTIES -- Christian, Was (holding), :28; Stevens, Was (roughing), 10:06; Cyr, Buf (holding), 10:06; Hospodar, Buf, double minor (tripping, roughing), 10:06; Dykstra, Buf (holding), 14:57; Murphy, Was, minor-misconduct (cross-checking), 16:09; Sheppard, Buf (high-sticking), 19:51.
THIRD PERIOD SCORING -- 6, Buffalo, Andreychuk 8 (Turgeon, Johansson), 3:39 (pp). 7, Buffalo, Foligno 6 (Johansson, Housley), 9:57. 8, Buffalo, Ruff 1, 19:34 (en). PENALTIES -- Adams, Was (high-sticking), 1:45; Gustafsson, Was (hooking), 2:59; Arniel, Buf, major (high-sticking), 5:24; Christian, Was (holding), 6:08; Creighton, Buf (slashing), 6:31; Gartner, Was (slashing), 6:31; Hunter, Was (hooking), 8:01; Creighton, Buf (holding), 12:36.
Shots on goal:
Power-play Opportunities -- Washington 2 of 10; Buffalo 2 of 6.
Goalies -- Washington, Peeters (31 shots-26 saves). Buffalo, Puppa (33-30).
A -- 14,941.
Referee -- Paul Stewart. Linesmen -- Pat Dapuzzo, Leon Stickle.
Devils 5, Blackhawks 2:
Doug Sulliman scored two goals and David Maley had a goal and an assist to help New Jersey, playing at home, over Chicago.
Rangers 4, Jets 3:
Marcel Dionne scored two goals, including the winner at 18:36 of the third period, to give New York the victory in Winnipeg.
Oilers 4, Penguins 1:
Mark Messier and Dave Hunter scored second-period goals to lead host Edmonton over Pittsburgh. Oilers goalie Grant Fuhr stopped 31 shots, including a first-period breakaway by Mario Lemieux.