Benoit Pouliot scored the go-ahead goal on and end-to-end rush 3:22 into the third period, and the Buffalo Sabres beat Washington 3-1, snapping the Capitals' three-game winning streak on Tuesday night.
Evander Kane scored twice, including an empty-netter with 20 seconds left, and Robin Lehner stopped 24 shots. Buffalo won for just the second time in five games and improved to 2-5-2 in its past nine meetings against the Capitals.
Alex Ovechkin scored his 13th of the season and extended his goal streak to three games for the Capitals, who came up flat in playing on consecutive nights. Washington was outshot 24-14 through two periods and 32-25 overall a day after rallying from a two-goal deficit in a 3-2 overtime win over Arizona.
Capitals backup Philipp Grubauer, starting in place of Braden Holtby, stopped 29 shots in dropping his record to 0-4-1 this season and extending his skid to 0-5-1 dating to last year.
Grubauer had no chance on Pouliot's goal. It came after the Capitals were caught in the Sabres zone when Washington defenseman John Carlson was unable to secure a pass during a 3-on-2 rush.
Pouliot collected the puck and sped up the left side. Entering the Capitals zone, he cut into the middle and, using defenseman Brooks Orpik as a screen, snapped a shot over Grubauer's left shoulder.
The Sabers opened the scoring 2 1/2 minutes into the second period when Jack Eichel stripped Orpik of the puck in the right corner. Eichel then fed a pass to Kane in front, who slipped a shot under Grubauer's legs.
Ovechkin tied it with 2:16 left in the second period when he was set up in front by Devante Smith-Pelly on a pass from the right boards. Ovechkin stepped to his right to catch Lehner leaning the wrong way and snapped the puck into the open right side.
Ovechkin continued his dominance against Buffalo by scoring his 27th goal and 43rd point in 43 career games against the Sabres.
The Sabres (5-8-2) finally showed resolve in the face of adversity. They entered the game 2-2-2 when scoring the first goal and had lost both times when tied through 40 minutes.
They also delivered on the patience first-year coach Phil Housley showed in them after he failed to criticize the team following a 5-1 loss at Dallas on Saturday. In noting he saw positive signs in the loss, Housley wanted to see his team "not crack" in a close game.
NOTES: Sabres recalled D Zach Redmond from AHL Rochester to fill in for Matt Tennyson who hurt his ankle when struck by a shot from Jack Eichel in practice on Monday. ... Sabres freed up a roster spot by placing RW Justin Bailey (lower body) on injured reserve. ... Capitals D Madison Bowey is listed day to day after sustaining an undisclosed injury against Arizona on Monday. Aaron Ness filled Bowey's spot in playing for just the second time in 10 games. ... Washington dropped to 0-4 this season in the second game of playing on consecutive nights, and outscored 17-5.
Capitals: Return home to host Pittsburgh on Friday.
Sabres: Complete two-game homestand against Florida on Friday.