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Back on power play, Roy makes his point

Derek Roy went from left out to linchpin.

Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff changed his power-play units Wednesday for Game One of the Eastern Conference semifinal against the New York Rangers. The swaps left Roy on the outside at the start, but he came back to spark the Sabres in their 5-2 victory in HSBC Arena.

Defenseman Jaroslav Spacek joined the first group, bumping Tim Connolly from the point to wing in place of Dainius Zubrus. Zubrus moved to center on the second wave, sending Roy to the bench.

The Sabres were blanked in their first five chances, though, so Roy centered the sixth. He picked up an assist when Thomas Vanek's power-play goal gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead at 14:19 of the middle period.

"If I get my chance, I've got to do something good out there," Roy said. "You're always hoping to contribute for your team. If you see your team struggling on the power play, you just want to get out there and contribute. Not taking the power play for granted is huge."

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It took just more than one period for the Rangers' blue line to go from healthy back to ailing.

Defenseman Karel Rachunek, who hadn't played since March 13, returned from his knee injury. But fellow blue-liner Michal Rozsival suffered a left leg injury and departed early in the second period.

Rozsival was New York's top-scoring defenseman in the regular season. The 28-year-old had 10 goals and 30 assists, and he added two goals and an assist in the opening round. He was hurt on a check by Ales Kotalik.

"Michal was playing the puck after a big chance by Tim Connolly, and I just finished my check," Kotalik said.

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The wide-eyed, jaw-dropped look has disappeared for Ryan Callahan.

Callahan, the Rangers rookie from Rochester, made his NHL debut against the Sabres on Dec. 1 in HSBC Arena. He was in awe in the dressing room prior to the game, with Jaromir Jagr to his right and a growing media contingent coming toward him.

He was a lot calmer just hours before the second round was set to start.

"I think I just feel a lot more comfortable out there and more a part of the team," Callahan said. "The other time it was my first call-up, my first game, and I was obviously a bit nervous."

Callahan proved he felt comfortable in the first round. He's playing on the third line with center Matt Cullen and left wing Petr Prucha, and he scored twice and added an assist in four games against Atlanta.

"To contribute like that builds your confidence a lot and makes you feel like a part of the team," Callahan said.

The rookie had five shots and three hits in 10:14 of ice time Wednesday.

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Danny Gare's name and number may be part of Sabres lore, but Rangers coach Tom Renney said his heart had better be in Manhattan.

Gare, whose No. 18 was retired by the Sabres after playing from 1974-81, is the brother-in-law of the Rangers coach. Renney is married to Gare's sister.

"He'd better be rooting for the New York Rangers or else he's out of the will," Renney said.

e-mail: jvogl@buffnews.com

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