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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres


BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Jhonas Enroth capably filled in for injured Ryan Miller by stopping 23 shots for his first career shutout, leading the Buffalo Sabres to a 1-0 victory over the New York Rangers in a seventh-place showdown Wednesday night.

Tim Connolly scored 5:28 into the second period to help the Sabres (39-29-9) earn their 87th point and move into tie with the Rangers (41-31-5) for seventh in the Eastern Conference with 10 days left in the season. Buffalo also was able to maintain a three-point edge over ninth-place Carolina, a 6-2 winner over Montreal.

The Rangers lost in regulation for the first time in eight games (6-1-1) to drop to 8-2-1 in their past 11. A lack of offense continued to be a problem for the Rangers, who were coming off a three-day break since a 1-0 win over Boston.

While Henrik Lundqvist stopped 34 shots for the Rangers, New York has scored just three goals in its past four games, including a pair of 1-0 shutout victories. ...more

In a game that featured key saves at both ends of the ice by goaltenders Jhonas Enroth and Henrik Lundqvist, Tim Connolly was the only player to find the back of the net.  With Buffalo on a power play in the second period, the Rangers came down the ice on a 3-on-1.  When Brian Boyle attempted to send a cross-ice pass to Ryan Callahan, Marc-Andre Gragnani, playing in his first NHL game for the Sabres since January, dropped to a knee to break up the scoring chance.  Thomas Vanek picked up the loose puck, rushed it up the ice and got it to Connolly in the neutral zone.  Connolly entered the New York zone and unleashed a slap shot from the top of the left face-off circle that beat Lundqvist over his right shoulder for the eventual game-winning goal. It was Connolly’s 12th goal of the season and Gragnani’s first NHL point.

Jhonas Enroth
Jhonas Enroth found out in the morning that he would be starting in goal against the Rangers on Wednesday, and it turned out to be a night he’ll likely never forget.  The 22-year-old netminder stopped all 23 shots he faced to record his first NHL shutout, and there was little margin for error as the Sabres hung on for a 1-0 victory.  Not only did Enroth pitch his first shutout, but his parents were in the stands watching him play in the NHL in person for the first time and even saw him win a goaltending duel against one of his childhood idols in Rangers goaltender and fellow Swede, Henrik Lundqvist.  Enroth became the first Sabres goalie other than Ryan Miller to record a shutout since Apr. 5, 2008 (Jocelyn Thibault) and the first Sabre other than Miller to pick up a shutout on home ice since Mar. 29, 2004 (Martin Biron).

- Prior to the game, General Manager Darcy Regier informed the media that Ryan Miller would be out with an upper-body injury and that his status is “day-to-day.”

Yeah, a very good night for me. I have to thank all the guys for making this night very special to me because they battled really hard tonight." - Sabres Goalie Jhonas Enroth on his first NHL shutout
- With tonight’s 1-0 win over the Rangers and last Saturday’s 2-0 victory against the Devils, the Sabres have now posted two consecutive home shutouts by different goaltenders for just the third time in franchise history.

- The Sabres improved to 12-4-3 over their last 19 games dating back to Feb. 23 and are 7-2-1 at home during that same span.

- An apparent goal by the Rangers’ Artem Anisimov was waved off by officials with 2:02 remaining in the first period when it was ruled that Ryan Callahan made incidental contact with Enroth. With the goal disallowed, the game remained scoreless heading into the first intermission.

- Marc-Andre Gragnani recorded his first career NHL point when he was credited with an assist on Tim Connolly’s second-period power play goal.  Gragnani, who leads all AHL defensemen in scoring, was playing in his first game with the Sabres since Jan. 23 and his fourth of the season.

- Thomas Vanek also collected an assist on Connolly’s goal to extend his point streak to four games (2-2-4).  He now has at least one point in 11 of his last 13 games.

- Mike Weber posted season-highs in both time on ice (23:47) and hits (6).

- Matt Ellis was recalled from Portland earlier today and started the game playing on a line with Rob Niedermayer and Cody McCormick.  He was appearing in his ninth game of season with Buffalo.

- Tonight’s game marked the conclusion of Buffalo’s 20th set of back-to-back games on the season.

- Tonight’s attendance of 18,690 marked the 11th consecutive sellout at HSBC Arena.

- Patrick Lalime served as Enroth’s backup.  Lalime has been recovering from a knee injury and dressed tonight for the first time since March 5.  The goaltender has not appeared in a game since Jan. 21.

- In addition to Miller (upper body, day-to-day), Jochen Hecht was out with an upper body injury and has missed 10 of the last 14 games.  Mike Grier, meanwhile, aggravated his knee on Saturday and was out for the second straight game.  Jordan Leopold (hand) and Patrick Kaleta (bone bruise in leg) remained sidelined as well.

- Defenseman Shaone Morrisonn was a healthy scratch for Buffalo.

- Forward Mats Zuccarello, defenseman Matt Gilroy and goaltender Martin Biron were out of the lineup for the Rangers.

The Sabres will head to the nation’s capital on Saturday to take on the Capitals for the fourth and final time this season.  The Southeast Division-leading Caps are sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference with 99 points and have already clinched a playoff spot and will make their fourth consecutive appearance in the postseason.  Alex Ovechkin continues to lead Washington in scoring with 77 points (29-48-77) in 74 games.  The Sabres have gone 1-2-0 against the Caps through the first three meetings between the clubs.  The lone victory was a 3-2 overtime win in Buffalo on Nov. 13 as Thomas Vanek scored a highlight reel goal in the extra frame to win it for the Sabres.

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