Before starting his first season as an NHL head coach, Adam Oates said he planned on using Alex Ovechkin in every possible situation.

"He's one of our marquee guys," Oates said. "He has to play well. Every team's star players have to play well. They do. And no exception here."

On Sunday, Oates saw how Ovechkin can win a game with one powerful shot on the power play, then make things interesting by missing an open net in the final seconds of a game.

"Ovi made it a little closer than I anticipated," Oates said after earning his first victory as an NHL head coach, a 3-2 nailbiter over the visiting Buffalo Sabres.

Ovechkin seemed energized when Oates reunited him with Nicklas Backtrom and Troy Brouwer, but it was his power-play cannon shot from the left circle 5:11 into the third period that stood up as the game winner.

With Sabres defenseman Alexander Sulzer in the penalty box for delay of game, Ovechkin set up in his familiar spot in the left circle and drilled a pass from Mike Green past goaltender Ryan Miller. The goal snapped Ovechkin's longest scoring drought to open a season -- four games -- and gave the Capitals a 3-1 lead.

"It was tough to give Ovechkin one in the third period and spot them another goal," Miller said. "I think my read could have been a little bit better."

Ovechkin finished the game with a team-high five shots and three hits, but it was his miss with 30 seconds remaining in the game that both he and Oates scratching their heads.