The Sabres were playing at First Niagara Center for the first time in 19 days following a marathon seven-game road trip that ended with a 3-1 win at Montreal on Tuesday. But Lundqvist made 34 saves though 65 minutes and four more in the shootout to give the New York Rangers a 1-0 victory on Wednesday night.
Ryan Callahan's wrister past Ryan Miller in the fifth round of the tiebreaker ended the game after Jason Pominville had kept Buffalo alive by beating Lundqvist to the stick side in the third round -- matching the goal scored by New York's Marian Gaborik on the Rangers' first attempt.
"A couple times before have tried to deke, and haven't been too lucky with that," Callahan said of his past shootout attempts. "I know Miller is pretty quick down low so I tried to fake glove and go blocker, and it went in, thank God."
Lundqvist made the best stop of the shootout when he robbed Brad Boyes in the second round. Boyes faked left and caught Lundqvist leaning before shifting to his right and trying to stuff the puck into the open side -- only to have Lundqvist reach back with his glove and keep the puck out of the net.
The win gives the Rangers 69 points, putting them on top of the overall standings. Western Conference leader Detroit also has 69 points but has played two more games.
"It was draining, but I thought we stayed with it and battled through it," Callahan said. "This team has been doing it all year like that, and this was a big two points for us -- especially to win that way like we did."
The Sabres are 12th in the East with 48 points, nine behind eighth-place New Jersey.
"It was a battle of the goalies tonight, and we've just got to start putting them in," Buffalo forward Tyler Ennis said. "We really wanted this one for Millsie -- he's been playing unbelievable.
"We have to look forward -- those pucks have to go in, and they're going to start going in."
Both goalies were credited with shutouts -- Miller stopped 29 shots through 65 minutes for the 24th of his career. Lundqvist earned his sixth shutout of the season, second in a row, third in his last five starts and the 41st of his career -- putting him alone in second place on the Rangers' all-time list, one ahead of Dave Kerr.
It was the fourth time he's been involved in a 1-0 shootout game, more than any other goaltender in the six-plus seasons of the tiebreaker.
Defenseman Dan Girardi could only marvel at his goaltender, whose 1.82 goals-against average is second in the NHL -- his .939 save percentage is first.
"I don't even know what to say ... Sometimes you just shake your head," he said.
Lundqvist took part in the All-Star Game on Sunday but was rested by coach John Tortorella for Tuesday's game against New Jersey -- a 4-3 shootout loss.
"I think it was good for me to get an extra day [of rest]," he said. "Even though it wasn't a lot of hockey, it was a lot of people, a lot of media. It was nice to regroup."
Through 60 minutes of regulation and five more in overtime, the night belonged to the goaltenders -- both of whom had to survive opposition power plays in overtime.
Buffalo got its fifth advantage of the night when Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto flipped the puck into the crowd with 1:38 left in regulation; Buffalo failed to convert during the 5-on-4, and again during 22 seconds of 4-on-3 play at the start of OT. Lundqvist's best saves before the shootout came with 1:09 left in regulation when he kicked aside two shots by Boyes, who had found himself alone atop the crease during a power play. Boyes had beaten Lundqvist with a slap shot early in the third period, only to have the puck hit the post and deflect harmlessly away.
"We keep getting chances, we have to put some pucks away," Miller said. "I thought this was a real strong effort by our guys tonight. One point is OK … but we've got to start winning some games. We put ourselves in position to win, but we didn't quite get it done."
New York got a power-play chance when Ennis was called for boarding Girardi at 47 seconds of overtime, but the Sabres' penalty killers did an excellent job of keeping the Rangers' to the outside, allowing Miller a clear view of the shots they didn't block.
Prior to the shootout, Miller's best save came early in the second period when he got his right pad out to stop Callahan's one-timer from the left circle. He also denied Carl Hagelin a few minutes later, deflecting the rookie's shot over the net.
Lundqvist said he knew early on that he had no margin for error.
"I could tell halfway through the first that Miller was playing really well, and I knew I had to be focused and make good decisions out there," he said. "It was a fun game, lots of back and forth action. And I am really happy we got the win."
The teams played with one referee for most of the night. Kelly Sutherland was helped off the ice 5:37 into the first period when he took a deflected shot by Buffalo's Jordan Leopold in the face. He didn't return, leaving Justin St. Pierre to work the game alone.
Material from national and team media was used in this report.