Witt's rare goal helps Caps widen Southeast lead


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Washington defenseman Brendan Witt just needed to get his first goal of the season to start talk about a bigger role on offense.

Witt's first-period goal snapped a 65-game goal-scoring drought, and helped the Washington Capitals extend their lead in the Southeast Division with a 3-2 victory Wednesday night over the Buffalo Sabres.

"He was fantastic tonight,'' Washington coach Bruce Cassidy said. "The puck was following him everywhere. I should have put him on the power play, for crying out loud.''

Jaromir Jagr and Peter Bondra also scored for Washington, now three points ahead of Tampa Bay in the division.

Curtis Brown and Dmitri Kalinin had goals for Buffalo.

After Jagr scored the game's first goal at the 4:58 first
period, Witt broke his scoring slump nearly 10 minutes later when
he lifted a backhander over Buffalo goalie Martin Biron. It was the
first goal for Witt since March 26, 2002, at Buffalo.

"I always enjoy scoring. I will take as many as I can get,'' Witt said. "It's no weight off my shoulder. It's stopping the opposition, that's my role.''

Bondra ended Washington's drought on the power play when he scored his 24th of the season when he knocked in a crossing pass from Kip Miller on a second-period power play to make it 3-0. The goal was Washington's first on its last 19 power-play chances.

Bondra has now scored in two straight games for the first time since late December.

Brown started the Buffalo comeback when he knocked a loose puck by Olaf Kolzig, and Kalinin scored on the power play 12 minutes later to bring the Sabres within 3-2 with 5:10 remaining.

"We weren't in the game at the beginning and it took us a while
to get going,'' Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "We pinched down
both walls and played reckless hockey, which ended up creating a
lot of chances and gave them a lot of problems in the third period.''

Kolzig, who finished with 35 saves, made the stops Washington needed down the stretch to preserve the two points.

"We make it interesting,'' Kolzig said. "We go from playing
the best defensive period we had all year in the second to running
around and losing coverage. I don't know what we were thinking in
the third period.''

Jagr, who has 35 career goals against Buffalo, put the Capitals ahead 1-0 when he patiently skated across the crease waiting for Buffalo goalie Martin Biron to commit before snapping a wrist shot behind him.

Miller, who was a scratch Monday because of a hand injury, also
assisted on Jagr's goal for the first of his two assists on the

Game notes
Washington's Robert Lang also had two assists in the game
giving him five straight games with at least one point. ... With 10
shots in the first period, Washington ended an eight-period streak
of recording less than 10. ... Buffalo now returns home to face
Dallas after going 1-1-1 on a three-game road trip against the top
three teams in the Southeast Division.