ALBANY, N.Y., SEPT. 26 -- The Washington Capitals gave rookie goaltender Byron Dafoe his chance tonight.

The scoreboard said Dafoe didn't do so well as the Buffalo Sabres beat the Capitals, 6-2, in front of 5,816 at the Knickerbocker Arena.

When it was done, Coach Terry Murray had no harsh words for Dafoe, 18, making his first NHL start, albeit in exhibition game.

"Absolutely not. I thought he played very well," Murray said after the Capitals fell to 1-4-2. "He made a lot of big stops and showed a lot of poise."

The plan was to have Dafoe play the entire game but he was forced to leave when he took a stick above the right eye with 9:40 remaining. A Capitals spokesman said Dafoe required stitches.

Dafoe faced 21 shots in his stint and stopped 16. The Sabres peppered him in the second period, scoring four times.

"It was a lot quicker out there than what I was used to last year," said Dafoe, who played junior hockey at Cornwall, Ontario, last season. "Here, when the puck gets near you, you have to jump on it right away or they're on top of you. In juniors, you might be able to get away with four steps. It's a lot quicker here."

Dafoe played the third period in a 6-4 loss to the Sabres last Thursday.

Murray said it is too early to tell whether Dafoe will be with the Capitals when they open the season a week from Friday at Capital Centre against Pittsburgh. They have five goalies -- minus holdout Don Beaupre.

"Of course, a lot will depend on what happens with Beaupre," Murray said. "We still have three exhibitions left and we have time to evaluate them all. It would be too early to say we're sending him back to juniors."