Quick Hits: Sabres 4, Rangers 1 - The Buffalo News

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Quick Hits: Sabres 4, Rangers 1

NEW YORK -- Sometimes, there's not much rhyme or reason to why one team gets an edge over another. Case in point: The Buffalo Sabres' games against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers entered Tuesday's game leading the NHL in goals with 135, tied for the league lead in wins (26) and third overall in the league's overall standing. The Sabres were 28th in wins and points, 29th in goals and locked in a 1-4-2 rut.

So what happened? Buffalo posted a workmanlike 4-1 win in Madison Square Garden, compiling its first three-game winning streak against the Rangers since the 2009-10 season.

Buffalo beat New York for the second time this season, counting a 4-3 win Dec. 1 in KeyBank Center. The Sabres won in MSG in April, so this was their first back-to-back wins here since Dec. 12, 2009 and March 7, 2010.

The Sabres got goals from Zemgus Girgensons, Evander Kane, Justin Bailey and Jack Eichel and two assists from Sam Reinhart. Anders Nilsson made 24 saves to get the win and improve to 6-3-3 on the season.

Crowning The King: The Sabres beat Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist here for the first time since March 3, 2013; Lundqvist was 5-0 at home against Buffalo since then with a 1.85 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.

The Gus Bus: Girgensons is going to get a long look at center in the wake of Johan Larsson's season-ending injuries and he responded by opening the scoring at 12:17 of the first period, beating Lundqvist on a backhand. It was Girgensons' fourth goal of the season -- and fourth in his last three games in the Garden.

Beating the clock: The Sabres took a 2-0 lead as Kane scored with 38.2 seconds left in the first, thanks in part to a poor line change by the Rangers. Kyle Okposo recognized the opening and quickly fed the puck up ice to Reinhart, whose shot was stopped by Lundqvist. But the rebound was left in front and Kane beat the New York defense to the spot to bang it home for his ninth goal of the season. Kane has nine goals and 12 points in his last 15 games.

Timely saves: The Sabres were full marks for their 2-0 lead after one, in part because Nilsson made two huge saves in short order when the score was still 1-0.  First, he stopped Chris Krieder on the doorstep after a great feed from Mats Zuccarello and then robbed Derek Stepan with his glove to keep the Sabres in front.

A memorable first: Bailey made it 3-0 at 1:03 of the second period, tallying his first NHL goal after stealing the puck from New York defenseman Kevin Klein. It was officially an unassisted goal but Kane completely harassed Klein into committing the turnover.

Breaking the New York ice: The Rangers got their goal at 15:55 of the second as defenseman Nick Holden wired home a slapshot to make it 3-1. New York outshot the Sabres, 15-4, in the period.

Regaining control: There was no semblance of a comeback in the third period for the Rangers, who didn't get a shot on goal over the first 14 1/2 minutes of the period. And they quickly found disaster as Jimmy Vesey went for interference at 18 seconds and the Sabres converted on an Eichel tap-in at 1:10. It was a goal that featured primo passing as Moulson found Reinhart, who quickly got the puck to Eichel at the goalmouth. At that point, the Sabres had four goals on just 15 shots on goal.

Approaching halfway mark: It was the 40th game of the season for the Rangers, who fell to 26-13-1 and will hit the halfway point on their schedule Wednesday night in Philadelphia. Their 26 wins through 39 games were tied for the third-most in franchise history at that spot, behind only the 27 earned by their 1994 Stanley Cup champions and their 1972 Cup finalists that lost to Boston.

Up next: The Sabres headed for Chicago after the game, where they will practice on Wednesday and then meet the Blackhawks Thursday night in United Center. The Hawks are coming off their 4-1 loss to St. Louis in the Winter Classic on Monday in Busch Stadium and are just 1-4-1 in their last six games.

email: mharrington@buffnews.com

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