- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2007

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Heading toward the playoffs, Daniel Briere and the Buffalo Sabres want to address a few deficiencies: Fix their sputtering power play and regain their edge at home.

Check and check.

Briere and Derek Roy scored power-play goals, helping the Sabres end a three-game home skid with an easy 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals last night.

“This is definitely what we wanted to clean up,” Briere said. “Sometimes it’s a good thing to hit the rough patch before you hit the playoffs. And hopefully we’re out of it now and we can look forward and come into the playoffs on a roll.”

Drew Stafford had two third-period goals and Clarke MacArthur also scored, while Dainius Zubrus had two assists in his first game against his former team. The Sabres acquired the forward in a deal with the Caps last month.

The Eastern Conference-leading Sabres (47-19-7) joined Nashville in becoming the second NHL team to reach the 100-point mark this season.

The two power-play goals ended a seven-game drought — Buffalo’s longest since 2003-04. And the Sabres avoided losing four straight at home for the first time since early last season.

“Small things mean a lot and I think we just want to be ramping up at the right time,” said Ryan Miller, who made 24 saves. “Last 10 games for us is going to be a focal point and tonight was a good step forward.”

It helps that the Sabres fine-tuned their game against the Caps (26-35-13), who continue displaying the telltale inconsistencies of a young team. Besides dropping to 1-8-2 in their past 11 road games, the Caps failed to build off two home wins in which they outscored their opponents by a combined 12-2, including a 7-1 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday.

“They just played well. We didn’t score,” said Alex Ovechkin, the Caps star held without a point for a third consecutive game.

Brian Pothier and Donald Brashear scored for Washington.

The Sabres, coming off a 2-0-2 four-game road swing, took control with a three-goal second period.

Roy’s goal, which opened the scoring 40 seconds into the second, came courtesy of a fortunate bounce after Dmitri Kalinin’s shot from inside the blue line sailed wide and high. The puck bounced to the right of the net, where Roy slid it in the open side with goalie Olie Kolzig looking the other way.

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