BUFFALO, N.Y. – 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.
In rebounding from a 4-3 loss at Toronto on Tuesday night, the Sabres improved to 5-1-1 in their past seven games, while beating one of the NHL's hottest teams. And they did it without Miller, who is listed as day to day with an upper body injury. Miller was hurt Tuesday when he was struck high on the chest by Dion Phaneuf's hard shot in the third period at Toronto.
General manager Darcy Regier said there's a possibility Miller could return by the weekend, when Buffalo travels to play Washington on Saturday and Carolina on Sunday.
Connolly opened the scoring with a power-play goal by slapping a 40-footer that appeared to deflect off the stick of Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi and beat Lundqvist on the short side.
The Rangers had a goal disallowed with 2:02 left in the first period, when Ryan Callahan knocked Enroth down from behind while cutting through the crease before Artem Anisimov converted a rebound from in close. Referee Chris Rooney immediately waved off the goal, ruling Callahan had inadvertent contact with the goalie.
The Sabres stormed out early, having a 12-3 edge in shots 12 minutes in, but couldn't get one past Lundqvist.
Thomas Vanek was foiled in the opening minute attempting to jam in a puck in front. Four minutes later, Lundqvist kicked out his left pad to stop Tyler Ennis' shot on the fly.
Lundqvist also got help from his teammates with 1:10 left in the frame. After foiling Vanek on a partial break 11 minutes in, he then stopped Connolly's attempt to jam in the rebound. The puck then trickled into the slot to Vanek, who's shot was blocked by center Brian Boyle while Lundqvist was scrambling to get back into position.
Lundqvist stayed in the game despite coming up limping in the final minute of the second period, when he appearing to hurt his right leg during a scramble in front.
Enroth wasn't tested as much, but still came up sharp. His best save came 15 seconds into the third, when he got across to make a sliding save on Derek Stepan, who was set up alone in front.
In the first period, Enroth stopped Brandon Dubinsky, who was set up in the slot on a three-on-two rush two minutes in. Later in the frame, he was sharp in getting his right arm up to get a piece of Marian Gaborik's shot from the right circle.
NOTES: Sabres LW Jochen Hecht sat out after aggravating an upper-body injury against Toronto. Hecht has appeared in just four of the team's past 14 games. ... The Sabres recalled D Marc-Andre Gragnani and LW Matt Ellis from Portland of the AHL. ... Lundqvist started his 21st straight game to match a career high set during the 2006-07 season. Coming off a 26-save, 1-0 win over Boston on Saturday, Lundqvist's shutout streak ended at a season-best 115:07 on Connolly's goal.