Vanek, who leads the league with 11 goals, posted his third multigoal game of the season. Derek Roy, Jason Pominville, and Daniel Paille also scored for Buffalo, which snapped a two-game losing streak during which they allowed 10 goals. Andrej Sekera had two assists for the first multipoint game of his NHL career.
Buffalo’s Tim Connolly played for the first time after missing the first 10 games of the season due hairline vertebrae fractures. He assisted on Roy’s goal.
The Capitals lost for the seventh time in eight games in Buffalo. Washington was without Alex Ovechkin for the second straight game as the defending league MVP was still in Russia visiting his ailing grandfather.
The Sabres grabbed the early momentum when Vanek beat Theodore 72 seconds into the game. Vanek took a lead pass on the left wing, moved easily past defenseman Mike Green and deposited a shot through Jose Theodore’s legs.
Derek Roy netted a power-play goal about 12 minutes later, wristing a shot off Theodore’s back from along the goal line. Pominville gave Buffalo a three-goal cushion with 24 seconds left in the period, grabbing a rebound and deking left on Theodore before going right for an easy slip-in.
Miller was especially sharp during a second-period flurry when Buffalo was two men short. He made four saves, including a pad stop on Green followed by a paddle save against Sergei Fedorov. On another power play later in the period, Miller made back-to-back saves on Green.
Washington held a 14-4 edge in shots during the frame but still trailed by four goals when Vanek netted his second of the night with less than three seconds remaining.
In the third period, Paille completed a give-and-go with Patrick Kaleta, scoring with eight minutes left.
Miller’s previous shutout was Feb. 13 against Toronto. … Ovechkin is scheduled to rejoin the Capitals in time for Tuesday’s game at Ottawa. … Theodore has given up at least two goals in the first period in five of eight starts, but the Capitals are 3-1 in those games. … Washington has eight of their 32 goals against in the first or final minute of a period. … Buffalo enforcer Andrew Peters was scratched for the first time this season.