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Rangers 3, Sabres 2, SO @NHL

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - The Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James. The New York Rangers have Jaromir Jagr.

That's the comparison New York goaltender Kevin Weekes made in referring to his star teammate, who scored the decisive shootout goal that lifted the Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.

``I equate him to having LeBron or Michael (Jordan), one of the best impact players ever to play,'' Weekes said. ``I can't see how you can think you're ever out of a game when you have someone of that caliber on your team.''

Jagr had a goal and assist in regulation and sealed the victory after both teams scored on each of their first two shootout chances. Driving at the net, he avoided Martin Biron's pokecheck and flipped the puck into the open left side.

Weekes then preserved the win when he stopped Chris Drury on Buffalo's third shootout opportunity. Drury fanned on his shot, allowing Weekes to make an easy stick save.

Jagr shrugged when informed of Weekes' compliment.

``It's always nice to have somebody say that. But, basketball's easier than hockey,'' Jagr said with a wink.

He's making hockey look pretty easy.

Jagr's regulation goal was his team-leading 20th of the season. He has two goals and six assists in his last three games, and he's scored at least a point in all but four of the Rangers' 24 games.

Michael Nylander also had a goal and assist for the Rangers, who overcame two one-goal deficits and won their third straight game. New York has also won three straight shootouts since a loss to the New York Islanders on Oct. 19.

Drury and Jay McKee scored for Buffalo, which had a three-game winning streak snapped.

Buffalo's record dropped to 1-1 in shootouts.

The loss was tough, but Sabres coach Lindy Ruff has other worries.

Goalie Mika Noronen hurt his groin in the third period and was replaced by Biron after Martin Straka scored on New York's first shootout attempt.

``He thought he could finish,'' Ruff said of Noronen. ``But when I watched the first one with him not wanting to go down, I could tell he was favoring it.''

While the extent of Noronen's injury was not immediately clear, Ruff said the team has already called up Michael Leighton from the minors for Buffalo's game at Long Island on Wednesday.

Anticipating he might get into the game, Biron warmed up in the hallway next to the Sabres' bench.

``I was ready to go,'' Biron said. ``It's not easy. Shootouts are never easy. It's three saves for a win. You just have to tough it out.''

Nylander forced extra time when he scored with 4:14 left in the third period. He flipped a shot from a bad angle over Noronen, who kicked out his left pad to make an initial stop on Jagr's drive from the right circle.

Jagr's second-period goal was the 557th of his career, moving him into sole possession of 18th place on the NHL list, one ahead of former Boston great John Bucyk.

Jagr's output could've been even better if he didn't have three shots hit goal posts - including twice during a during a 30-second span in the first period.

``If I were younger, I'd be frustrated and feeling sorry for myself,'' Jagr said. ``You can't be unlucky forever. I knew I'd get a score.''

Notes: The Sabres honored former captain Danny Gare by retiring his No. 18 during a pregame ceremony. Gare, a two-time 50-goal scorer, had 267 goals and 233 assists for 500 points in six-plus seasons with Buffalo. He became the fifth Sabres player to have his number retired, joining Tim Horton and the French Connection trio of Gilbert Perreault, Rene Robert and Richard Martin. ... Jagr sits three goals behind former Montreal great Guy Lafleur on the NHL career list, and is sixth among active players behind Detroit's Brendan Shanahan (570 goals). ... Sabres RW J.P. Dumont (groin strain) missed his second straight game.

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