NEW YORK (AP) _ The Buffalo Sabres are putting themselves in position to
make a surprising run at the playoffs. The New York Rangers' road to the
postseason is growing tougher with every loss.
Daniel Briere and Chris Drury each scored a power-play goal, and Martin
Biron made 33 saves to lift the Sabres to a 3-1 victory over New York on Friday
Ales Kotalik added an empty-net goal with 36.6 seconds remaining to help the
Sabres win for the fourth time in five games and pull within five points of the
New York Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
``They way I look at it, the seventh and eighth teams in the conference will
be three or four games over .500,'' Biron said after the Sabres improved to
22-25-5-1. ``That's where we've got to get. We've got a lot of big games
upcoming against conference teams and we're trying to get on a roll.''
Dale Purinton scored for the fading Rangers, who have lost six of seven.
They are a point behind Buffalo and Atlanta in the standings.
``We've put ourselves in a bit of a hole here,'' captain Mark Messier said.
``We're looking up again. We have to find a way to win games.''
The Rangers will have to find their way without Eric Lindros for now. They
learned Friday that the star center will be sidelined indefinitely after
sustaining the eighth concussion of his career Wednesday against Washington.
Mike Dunham returned from his concussion after missing two games and made 32
saves for New York, but it wasn't enough to avert another defeat.
``We don't have much time left,'' Purinton said. ``Every game is huge and
we've got to do something to win some. The time to press the panic button is
It was the Sabres and Biron who kept their cool, especially in the third
``In the third period, he stepped over the line and got a couple of fabulous
saves for us,'' Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said.
Briere scored the only goal of the first period at 12:36. With Rangers
defenseman Boris Mironov serving a double minor for high-sticking, Alexei
Zhitnik took a shot from the point that Dunham blocked. Jochen Hecht grabbed
the rebound and passed through the crease to Briere.
Drury cashed in on another power play to give the Sabres a 2-0 lead at 18:02
of the second. Briere also played a key role, passing to Drury, who beat Dunham
from close range.
Purinton scored for New York 45 seconds later with a shot from the left
point as Rangers wing Matthew Barnaby appeared to screen Biron.
Both teams had apparent goals nullified by video reviews in the third period
The Sabres almost got a third goal five minutes in when Kotalik took a shot
that dribbled through Dunham's pads. Drury drove to the net, trying to reach
the puck as it trickled toward the goal line. Rangers forward Chris Simon
knocked Drury into the net and, in the ensuing pileup, Drury, Simon and the
puck all wound up in the cage.
The goal was disallowed after a lengthy video review when the officials
ruled Drury knocked the puck into the net with his hand.
Video goal judge John Damante ruled that Jamie Lundmark's bid for a tying
goal with 2:51 remaining never fully crossed the goal line.