WASHINGTON - An NHL routine gone missing for 262 days made an overdue return Sunday: Alex Ovechkin scored a goal, and the Washington Capitals won.
Like old times. The two-time league MVP nailed a one-timer from the left circle on a power play, skated a few feet, bent his left knee and unleashed that familiar downward celebratory fist pump. He then collected the customary row of high-fives as he skated past the Capitals bench.
And, naturally, it proved to be the decisive goal in the game, coming with 14:49 remaining in a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. The Capitals hadn't won - and Ovechkin hadn't scored - since May 9, 2012, during a playoff series against the New York Rangers.
"We finally win," Ovechkin said. "So it's much, much better for us right now. No pressure (on) our shoulders."
Joel Ward scored his third goal of the season, John Erskine got his first since the 2011 playoffs, and Michal Neuvirth made 22 saves for the Capitals, who had opened with four consecutive losses for the first time since 1993-94.
• Penguins 2, Senators 1, SO: In Ottawa, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal scored in the shootout to give Pittsburgh a victory.
Neal also scored in regulation to help the Penguins snap a two-game skid.
Colin Greening scored a second-period goal for the Senators, and Jason Spezza and Kyle Turris beat Marc-Andre Fleury in the shootout. But Milan Michalek was stopped with Ottawa's first attempt.
• Blackhawks 2, Red Wings 1, OT: In Chicago, Nick Leddy scored 2:45 into overtime and the Blackhawks improved to 6-0 - the best start in franchise history.
After taking a cross-ice pass from Viktor Stalberg, Leddy fired from the left circle and beat Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard with a shot that slipped just under his glove.
• Blues 5, Wild 4, OT: In St. Louis, Vladimir Sobotka scored from close range at 2:16 of overtime to give the Blues the win. St. Louis is 5-1, its best start since winning seven of its first eight in 1997-98.
• Sharks 4, Canucks 1: In San Jose, Calif., Joe Pavelski had two goals, Patrick Marleau scored again - though only once - and the undefeated Sharks beat Vancouver. Joe Thornton also scored for the Sharks, who improved to 5-0-0.
• Canadiens 4, Devils 3, OT: In Montreal, Andrei Markov scored 4:22 into overtime on a power play as the Canadiens recovered from blowing a two-goal lead.
• Lightning 5, Flyers 1: In Tampa, Fla., Teddy Purcell had a goal and two assists, and Martin St. Louis contributed four assists in Tampa Bay's win.
• Jets 5, Islanders 4, OT: In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Evander Kane scored 1:59 into overtime to give the Jets a come-from-behind victory.