Dylan Cozens scores 3 in Sabres' 7-4 rout of Capitals
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Dylan Cozens had the first three-goal game of his career and added an assist, and the Buffalo Sabres won their third straight in routing the Washington Capitals 7-4 on Sunday.
The Sabres enjoyed their second seven-goal outing in 11 days despite missing two of their leading scorers, forward Alexander Tuch and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who are sidelined by injuries.
Buffalo had 12 players register at least a point, including Tage Thompson, with his team-leading 40th goal. Jeff Skinner, Zemgus Girgensons and Vinnie Hinostroza also scored in a game the Sabres broke open by scoring four times in a seven-minute span in the second period.
Hinostroza’s goal was his first of the season, and it came after he was called up from the minors to replace Tuch, who will miss at least two weeks with a lower-body injury. Dahlin, who is tied with Tuch for second on the team with 62 points, is listed as day to day as he rests a nagging injury.
Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 26 shots for Buffalo, which began the day sitting ninth in a tightly contested Eastern Conference playoff race in which three points separated the seventh and the suddenly slumping 12th-place Capitals.
Coming off a 6-3 win over the New York Rangers, Washington has lost seven of eight.
Alex Ovechkin scored his team-leading 33rd goal and registered his 1,467th career point to tie Stan Mikita for 16th on the NHL list. Dylan Strome and T.J. Oshie had a goal an assist apiece, and Sonny Milano also scored for the Capitals.
Darcy Kuemper was yanked after allowing five goals on 19 shots with 9:53 left in the second period. He was replaced by Charlie Lindgren, who allowed two goals on 19 shots.
With the game tied at 2, Skinner scored the go-ahead goal to spark Buffalo’s four-goal outburst 5:49 into the second period, when he stuffed in a puck that got in behind Kuemper after he got a piece of Mattias Samuelsson’s shot from in front.
Kyle Okposo forced a turnover at the right boards to set up Girgensons alone in front 2:47 later, and Kuemper was chased after Hinostroza wrapped a puck behind the goalie at the 10:07 mark of the second period. Cozens capped the four-goal run less than three minutes later and then sealed the win by scoring with 8:08 left in the third period.
Capitals coach Peter Laviolette placed an emphasis on the playoff race in determining to start Kuemper on back-to-back days for the first time this season.
“It’s a big game,” Laviolette said, noting that another factor was Kuemper having a relatively easy outing Saturday, when he stopped 23 of 26 shots in a 6-3 win. “Everybody got a good rest. So it’s just got a little bit of a different feel to it.”
The Capitals, who haven’t missed the playoffs since the 2013-14 season, are unaccustomed to being on the outside of a playoff position this late in the season. Their 29 wins and 64 points through 62 games are the fewest since having 28 wins and 63 points 62 games into the 2007-08 season.
Capitals LW Marcus Johansson missed his second game with an illness. ... Rookie Jack Quinn took over Tuch’s spot alongside Thompson and Skinner. ... Hinostroza took over a second-line role in being called up from the minors to fill Tuch’s roster spot.
Capitals: Head west for a three-game swing beginning with game at Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.
Sabres: Host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
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John Wawrow, The Associated Press