John Carlson scored the lone shootout goal in the fourth round as the short-handed Washington Capitals won their home opener, defeating the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 Friday night.
Jakub Vrana had a goal and an assist and Nicklas Backstrom and Nic Dowd also scored the Capitals, who have defeated the Sabres in all three meetings this season. Rookie goalie Vitek Vanecek made 24 saves for Washington.
The Capitals were without forwards Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, defenseman Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Ilya Samsonov, who were all placed on the COVID-19 list Wednesday.
Eric Staal, Dylan Cozens and Riley Sheahan scored for the Sabres. It was the first NHL goal for Cozens, the seventh overall pick in the 2019 draft.
Goaltender Linus Ullmark, who missed the previous two games because of the death of his father, returned to the Sabres' net and stopped 29 of 32 shots. He made four saves in overtime, three coming as the Capitals opened the extra session with a man advantage after Buffalo's Rasmus Ristolainen was called for holding T.J. Oshie with 10 seconds remaining in regulation.
After neither team scored through the first three rounds of the shootout, Carlson put a slap shot between Ullmark's legs. Vanecek then saved Sam Reinhart's attempt, giving the Capitals the victory.
The score was tied 1-1 after the opening period and 3-3 after two.
Staal opened the scoring at 12:33 of the first period with his first goal as a Sabre on an assist from Victor Olofsson.
The Capitals tied it as Backstrom converted a rebound at 16:18 of the first.
Washington took the lead on Dowd's slap shot from the top of the right faceoff circle, off a pass from Vrana, at 4:14 of the second.
Cozens tied it at 2-2 at 10:43, stealing the puck at center ice and skating down the right wing on a three-on-two break. Cozens kept the puck and beat Vanecek with a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle.
The Capitals took a 3-2 lead on Vrana's rebound off a Zdeno Chara slap shot at 13:07.
The Sabres tied it just 42 seconds later as Sheahan skated in alone from the left corner to the top of the crease and put a backhander just inside the far post.
--Field Level Media