Share this article

print logo

WHO LET THE SABRES OUT? RANGERS BOW

The Westminster Kennel Club's annual competition doesn't return to Madison Square Garden until next week.

But the dogs arrived early Tuesday night.

The New York Rangers played dead, and the Buffalo Sabres finally found their offensive teeth in a 6-3 laugher in the Garden.

The Sabres, who had scored nine goals in their previous seven games and lost five of their last six before the All-Star break, received goals from six different players, including three in the first period.

"The puck just started going into the net," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We had those opportunities before the break and we just couldn't bury them. Some players on some long skids got out of their droughts."

Buffalo hopes to continue its newfound offensive bite tonight in a HSBC Arena game against the New York Islanders (7; Empire, Radio 107.7 FM, 1330).

The Rangers, languishing eight games below .500, had been giving up goals in bunches before the All-Star break. Some time off didn't help matters, as they turned in a performance that was far from crisp.

"That's every coach's fear," Ruff said. "When you come off the All-Star break with a few days off, you're afraid you might play sloppy. We took advantage of that."

The Rangers served as slump-busters in a variety of ways. J.P. Dumont snapped his 18-game slump 1:24 into the game, and defenseman Jay McKee scored his first goal of the season -- and first in 52 games -- 1:13 later.

Miroslav Satan ended his eight-game drought in the third period on Buffalo's second power-play goal of the night. It was the first time since New Year's Day the Sabres had scored twice on the man-advantage, converting four of 55 chances in the interim.

Richard Smehlik, Stu Barnes and Dave Andreychuk also scored for Buffalo, and Dominik Hasek stopped 24 shots.

New York actually broke some slumps, too. Captain Mark Messier ended an 18-game drought with his 200th goal in a Rangers' uniform, and the Sabres' penalty-killing unit was beaten for the first time in nine games.

But that didn't matter much. The Sabres were in control all night.

Buffalo hadn't netted more than two goals in a game since beating Tampa Bay, 3-1, on Jan. 16. It hadn't scored six goals since Jan. 8, 2000.

Mike Richter's long night in the Rangers' net started when Dumont scored his 16th goal off Barnes' gorgeous backhand pass from behind the net.

"That was huge," McKee said. "It just goes to show that hopefully we're getting ourselves out of it (the offensive slump)."

McKee made the score 2-0 at 2:37 of the first period when Maxim Afinogenov slid a pass into the slot. McKee was alone and beat Richter between the legs. At that point, McKee thought Richter realized it would be a long night.

"I didn't get much on my shot, and I caught him off-guard," he said. "From there he was shaking his head."

Smehlik scored an unassisted goal at 15:07, the defenseman's third.

But the Rangers wouldn't roll over just yet. Petr Nedved skated by Hasek's face and barely sent the puck past his Czech countryman's stacked pads at 15:20 of the first.

Messier's power-play goal trimmed the Sabres' lead to 3-2 at 2:22 of the second period, but Barnes added a power-play tally of his own after picking up a Jason Woolley rebound. It was Barnes' 14th goal.

The Sabres regained their three-goal lead at 17:48 of the second on Andreychuk's 11th of the season.

Satan netted his 16th goal 3:43 into the third. The goal gave Satan, who assisted on Dumont's goal, the Sabres' scoring lead with 38 points. He had been tied with Dumont, who now has 37. New York's Jeff Ulmer completed the scoring later in the third.

Curtis Brown remained out of the Sabres' lineup with back spasms. Brown also missed two games prior to the All-Star break with the same malady.

Winger Vladimir Tsyplakov and defenseman James Patrick were healthy scratches.

With center Denis Hamel undergoing season-ending knee surgery on Thursday, the Sabres called up Chris Taylor from Rochester for the third time this season. Taylor centered the fourth line between Eric Boulton and Rob Ray.

BUFFALO SABRES
Who's hot: Stu Barnes has three goals in past four games
Record last 5: 2-3
Power play: 36 of 231 (15.6%)
Penalty killing: 26 of 205 (87.3%)
Injuries: C Curtis Brown (back)
Fast fact: Beat the Islanders, 2-1, Jan. 27 in Uniondale

NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Who's hot: Brad Isbister leads team with seven power play and four game-winning goals.
Record last 5: 2-3
Power play: 34 of 245 (13.9%)
Penalty killing: 55 of 281 (80.4%)
Injuries: None
Fast fact: Winless in seven overtime games

There are no comments - be the first to comment