Evander Kane had a goal and an assist as the Buffalo Sabres defeated the league-leading Capitals 4-1. With the win, Buffalo avoided a third consecutive loss to Washington this season.
Philip Varone, Tim Schaller and Kane scored giving Buffalo a 3-0 lead by the 7:14 mark of the second period.
Braden Holtby, who hadn't lost in regulation in 22 consecutive games, was replaced after allowing three goals on the Sabres’ first 16 shots.
“I thought we were really easy on them in the first,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz. “No one touched anybody, we just played. They got one goal, there wasn't a lot of chances, but they scored in the first and then their second goal was short-handed - I thought that was what gave them a lot of life.
“A little disappointed in the investment of our group early in the game - the first half of the game for sure and you're not going to win like that in this league.”
The loss also halted the Capitals five-game winning streak.
The game marked Mike Richards regular season debut after he was signed by the Caps to a one-year deal on Jan. 6.
Richards had one shot on goal and a hit while playing 22 shifts and 13:01 of ice time on Washington’s fourth line alongside Zach Sill and Michael Latta.
Trotz was happy with what he saw from Richards first game in over nine months.
“(Richards) did fine. I didn't have any problems with his stamina,” Trotz said. “Actually we played him a lot more than I thought we were going to play him. Stamina was not a problem. I thought not playing for eight months maybe the speed of the game or whatever - he didn't look at all out of place.
"I'm really encouraged. When a guy hasn't played for eight or nine months, comes in and is one of your better players, that doesn't say much about us or we're saying a lot about Mike. I know he's going to be a real good add for us. He's going to be a big part of our success. You can see the hockey IQ and all that. The compete level and all that. I think he's going to be a real good fit for us."
Richards whose last game came last April was a little more critical of his debut.
“Legs were alright, hands I was just throwing the puck away I think for the most part the first half of the game,” he said. “Then started getting a little bit of a feel back in the second half, and I made a couple plays. But it's kind of expected for the first match of the year in January. Got to improve.”
Richards and the Caps will have a chance to improve on Sunday when they play host to the New York Rangers.