Series (Game 1 of 4)

Washington leads 3-1

Game 1: Saturday, December 7th
Game 2: Monday, December 30th
Game 3: Wednesday, February 26th
Game 4: Tuesday, March 4th

Capitals 3

(12-14-0, 26 pts)

Sabres 4

(7-14-1, 19 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 7, 2002

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 T
WSH 0 2 13
BUF 1 1 24

M. Satan (Sabres - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

A. Mair (Sabres - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

D. Kalinin (Sabres - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Mair, Kalinin score 68 seconds apart in third

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Adam Mair and the Buffalo Sabres played too hard to let this one slip away.

Adam Mair

Mair scored with 2:03 remaining, and 68 seconds after teammate Dmitri Kalinin tied the game, as the suddenly resurgent Sabres rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.

"It feels good. It's fun again to come to the rink,'' Mair said. "They're baby steps but they're going in the right direction. We just have to build off of that.''

Buffalo did lose left wing Jochen Hecht to a serious injury when he was hit in the right side of the face by teammate Brian Campbell's point shot seven minutes into the third period.

Hecht, who was falling while Campbell was winding up for the shot, lost part of his right ear and also required stitches to close a cut.

Coach Lindy Ruff didn't have a full update on Hecht, who was still receiving treatment after the game.

Buffalo won its third straight following a 1-12-3-1 stretch. The Sabres didn't give up after squandering two leads or after they fell behind on Jaromir Jagr's goal that put the Capitals ahead 3-2 three minutes into the third period.

"It's a big difference,'' Mair said, referring to the team's new confidence. "Before, it felt like everyone was deflated on the bench. But there was no quit on the bench tonight. We knew that we were on them, and if we dogged them hard enough, maybe they would give.''

Miroslav Satan, with his fourth goal and seventh point in four games, and Ales Kotalik also scored for the Sabres, who outshot the Capitals 44-25. Buffalo held an 18-4 advantage after Jagr gave Washington the lead.

Peter Bondra and Brian Sutherby also scored for the Capitals.

"It's like we are afraid to win hockey games, like we've never had the lead before,'' Capitals coach Bruce Cassidy said. "I shouldn't say that we'll never learn, but I'm just frustrated and wonder when we'll learn.''

And it was no excuse that the Capitals were playing their second game in consecutive nights after a 7-6 overtime win over Atlanta. The Sabres, coming off Friday's 4-1 road win over the New York Rangers, played their third game in four nights.

Taylor Pyatt set up the game-winner, feeding a pass to Mair, who was open in the right circle. Mair one-timed a shot that trickled through Sebastien Charpentier's legs.

Kalinin scored in similar fashion, one-timing Chris Gratton's pass into the left circle with a shot that sneaked under Charpentier's left pad.

Charpentier got the start after being called up from the minors earlier in the day. Starter Olaf Kolzig is day-to-day after straining a groin muscle during warmups before Friday's game against Atlanta.

"Our goalie gave us a chance all night. That's all you ask of him. But we didn't help him at all,'' Bondra said. "We just kind of sat back and stopped playing. We have to play smarter.''

Confidence has been the difference as the Sabres have won three straight for the first time last March.

"Confidence means we have the ability to do something,'' Ruff said. "We knew we could do it and we've done it in previous games. All we talked about was getting one shot and finding the hole.''

Game notes

Capitals C Michael Nylander, who had an assist on Jagr's goal, extended his points streak to 10 games, a stretch in which he's had seven goals and 24 points. ... The Capitals, who next play at Anaheim on Wednesday, opened a five-game road swing in which they'll play four games in six nights, ending at Colorado on Dec. 16. ... The Capitals have had 17 of their 28 games decided by one goal, nine of them losses.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press