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Six Rangers score in win against Sabres

by Brian Compton /

NEW YORK -- Things seem to be clicking on the New York Rangers power play these days.

Just ask the Buffalo Sabres.

Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider and Rick Nash scored power-play goals 2:32 apart in the first period, and Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves to lead the Rangers to a 6-1 win against the Sabres at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

It was not the fastest three-power play goals in Rangers history; those were scored on Nov. 21, 1995, in 1:10 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. New York hadn't scored three power-play goals in a period since Feb. 4, 2010, against the Washington Capitals.

Dan Boyle, Carl Hagelin and Jesper Fast also scored for the Rangers (21-11-4), who have won 10 of their past 11 and begin a three-game West Coast trip Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

"Funny how things are sometimes," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "We scored the three goals on the power play, but the power play that we didn't score [in the second period], if you analyze everything we did, we did everything right. We had net traffic, we shot the puck, we had puck recovery, we never had it on our stick for more than a second. It's the only power play we didn't score. That's the way it is sometimes."

Drew Stafford scored for the Sabres, who allowed at least three power-play goals in a game for the fourth time this season. Michal Neuvirth started in goal for a second straight night, but was pulled in the first period after allowing four goals on nine shots.

Buffalo (14-23-3) plays the second of its four-game road trip Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils. The Sabres, who were shut out 2-0 at home by the Florida Panthers on Friday, are 1-7-1 in their past nine games.

"We were probably out of it before it even started," Buffalo coach Ted Nolan said. "I thought the first five to six minutes we had some good energy with a better start than [Friday] night, and then all of a sudden, a bad penalty. They get one [goal]. Then all of a sudden, they get another one and another one, and then the game is over."

Brassard opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 8:46 of the first period. Shortly after Andrej Meszaros was whistled for tripping, Brassard positioned himself in the slot and redirected a feed from Martin St. Louis (two assists) past Neuvirth to give New York a 1-0 lead. It was Brassard's 10th goal.

"We didn't really know what to expect from that team, but we were trying to get our power play going at home," Brassard said. "I think on the road it's a little better. If teams get some penalties, we have to use our power play as a weapon, and that's what we did."

The Sabres were given a bench minor right after the goal for unsportsmanlike conduct, putting the Rangers right back on the power play. Kreider made it 2-0 at 9:53 when he got behind the defense, took a pass from J.T. Miller and backhanded a shot past Neuvirth for his seventh goal.

Kreider was hooked by Cody McCormick moments before his goal, and the Rangers had yet another power play.

Nash made it 3-0 with his 24th goal. Miller fed Nash near the right goal post, and Nash took one stride toward the front of the net and quickly roofed a shot over Neuvirth at 11:18.

"I looked at them coming into the building, played [Friday] night, and you want to try to get a good game, and that happens," Lundqvist said of the Sabres. "I kind of felt for them a little bit because three penalties in a row and we cashed in on all three. Obviously it was an important moment in the game, and the way we set the tone there probably helped us win the hockey game."

New York is 6-for-11 on the power play in its past four games.

The Rangers scored their first even-strength goal of the game at 12:34 on Boyle's third goal. Boyle, who entered with two goals in 19 games, took a pass from Nash and beat Neuvirth with a wrist shot from the left circle to make it 4-0.

"When things like that happen, you've got to put a team away," Boyle said of the Sabres' inability to stay out of the penalty box. "The power play did that. It was unexpected, but nice."

Nolan called timeout after Boyle's goal and replaced Neuvirth with Jhonas Enroth, who made 28 saves.

"It's tough to say why we weren't better," Neuvirth said. "It's tough to give up four goals so quick. I have to look at the tape and figure out how to play better."

The onslaught continued early in the second period when Hagelin scored at 2:26. With the teams at even strength, Hagelin carried the puck from behind the Sabres net, skated into the slot and sent a wrist shot through a crowd in front that found its way past Enroth to make it 5-0. It was Hagelin's eighth goal.

The Sabres got on the scoreboard 22 seconds later on Stafford's sixth goal. Stafford's initial wrist shot from the left circle was stopped by Lundqvist, but the Sabres right wing collected the rebound and beat Lundqvist on a wraparound to make it 5-1.

"You can't give a team like that back-to-back-to-back chances. They are too good," Stafford said. "The skill they have, plus us not getting it done … our compete level and our will just are not where they have to be.

"We have no excuses. We need to be better. It's devastating to go down 4-0 so quickly. There's no other word for it."

Fast restored New York's five-goal lead with five minutes remaining in the second period when he one-timed Kevin Hayes' feed past Enroth for his third goal. Play continued after Fast's shot, which quickly came out of the net, and it required video review to determine it was in fact a goal.

"We're just not doing enough as a team. It's unacceptable," Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges said. "[We] can't have 20 guys pulling in different directions. It's hard enough to win in this league when you are."

Zemgus Girgensons was officially named an All-Star an hour before the game. The Sabres center topped all vote-getters with 1,574,896. The 20-year-old from Latvia has 11 goals and nine assists in 40 games. All-Star Weekend is scheduled for Jan. 24-25 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

Rangers defenseman Marc Staal was a game-time decision after he missed practice Friday to attend his grandfather's funeral. Staal participated in warm-ups and then was deemed ready to play. Defenseman John Moore was scratched in favor of Matt Hunwick after warm-ups.


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