WASHINGTON (AP) -- Daniel Briere has five goals and 11 assists in
eight games since returning from a sports hernia injury after the
The Buffalo Sabres are 7-1 since the break. Their seven-game
winning streak matches their longest of the season.
Coincidence? Of course not.
Briere had two goals and two assists Tuesday night in a 6-4
victory over the Washington Capitals, including an assist on Ales
Kotalik's winner with 1:43 to play.
"When you take what was your best player out of the lineup for
a long time, you start to wonder how it's going to work when he
comes back," coach Lindy Ruff said.
"I think we've seen a good indication what it's done for our
team, offensively, the creativeness that he brings. He's small in
stature, but big when it comes to the role he plays on the team."
Briere, who missed 24 games before the break, scored twice in
the second period to tie the game after Buffalo fell behind 3-1.
Tim Connolly scored a first-period goal, Derek Roy tied the
score again with 6:53 remaining in the third, and Maxim Afinogenov
added an empty-netter for the Sabres, who remained two points
behind first-place Ottawa in the Northeast Division.
"It's not something we're looking forward to, to go down two
goals, but we did it in Boston and we did it a few days ago in
Philly," Briere said. "It's pretty impressive. For us, after the
first period, it was just about trying to come back in the game --
finding a way to get that first one. After that, we knew anything
The Sabres also were down 4-3 at the start of the third period,
making this the eighth time this season they've won when trailing
after two periods.
Roy tied the score early in the third on a power play, and
Kotalik poked in his 24th goal of the season off Jochen Hecht's
pass from behind the net. The puck ping-ponged in the crease
between goaltender Brent Johnson and defenseman Shaone Morrisonn
before going in.
"I was waiting for the shot, and then it deflected off a
stick," said Johnson, who gave Olaf Kolzig a rare night off. "And
as I was moving across, it hit Mo's skate and it went five hole. It
was one of those things where I thought my stick was in the right
place. Man, it's heartbreaking. These guys played an excellent
game, a hard-fought game, everyone, both teams right down to the
line. I would've liked to see it go into overtime and get a chance
Rookie Alex Ovechkin scored his 43rd goal and had two assists
for the Capitals, giving him 82 points on the season. He is the
first rookie with 80 or more points since Mikael Renberg had 82
with Philadelphia in 1993-94.
Ovechkin emerged from a slump, at least by his standards. He had
been held without a point for two straight games, and he's yet to
have a three-game drought. The 20-year-old Russian again displayed
his blistering speed when he found space on the left flank and beat
goaltender Ryan Miller with a shot that hit the inside of the far
post on a power play for the Capitals' second goal.
Capitals C Brian Sutherby returned after missing one game
with a lower-body injury. ... With their homestand over, the
Capitals will play eight of their remaining 12 games on the road.