After getting just their second win in eight games, the Buffalo Sabres credited the victory to a solid team effort.
Evander Kane and Justin Bailey scored 1:42 apart around the first intermission, leading the Sabres to a 4-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night. Zemgus Girgensons and Jack Eichel also scored, and Anders Nilsson stopped 24 shots to help the Sabres improve to 2-4-3 in their last eight.
"There's a lot of areas where we did well in the game tonight in terms of how we want to play," Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma said. "Our defense did a simple but good job with their execution with the puck and their moving the puck north, getting the puck up to our forwards. It was probably our best game in the third period with the lead playing the way we need to play."
Sam Reinhart had two assists, extending his career-best points streak to seven games and giving him two goals and seven assists in that stretch.
Buffalo has beaten the Rangers in three straight meetings — including twice this season — after losing the previous nine.
"We played a pretty simple game for 60 minutes and had success," Eichel said. "At times this season, we've gotten away from our game. You can see in the third period, we didn't really give them much at all. A lot of pucks were north and in their zone and it seemed like we played with it in their zone."
Nick Holden scored and Henrik Lundqvist made 15 saves for the Rangers, who were trying for their first four-game winning streak since a five-game run Oct. 30 to Nov. 6.
New York trailed 3-0 early in the second period before picking up its intensity. Holden got the Rangers on the scoreboard with 4:05 remaining in the middle period as he took a pass from J.T. Miller and fired a slap shot past Nilsson for his eighth of the season.
The Sabres restored their three-goal lead on the power play at 1:10 of the third. Reinhart sent a pass from the left faceoff dot to Eichel, who was streaking to the net and poked it in for his seventh.
New York didn't get its first shot of the third period until there was only 5:28 left.
"They kind of came out hard in the second (period), pushed us back a little bit," Nilsson said. "We scored a goal early and they got one late, but came out of the second period fine. And it was fun to stand back during the third and see the way we play, the way we shut the door and shut them down."
The Rangers didn't manage their first shot on goal until Ryan McDonagh's wrister that was stopped by Nilsson 9:54 into the first period.
Buffalo got on the scoreboard with 7:43 left in the opening period. Brian Gionta sent a centering pass from the left corner that deflected off William Carrier's skate, and Girgensons backhanded it in from the right side for his fourth.
"They kind of set the tone in the first 10 minutes, and obviously they got some timely goals," Lundqvist said. "(We) made some mistakes, and it's my job to be there and clean it up, but was just not able to do that."
The Rangers then had two nice chances just seven seconds apart, but Chris Kreider's attempt from in close was stopped by Nilsson with four minutes to go, and then Derek Stepan's shot was gloved by the goalie.
The Sabres made it 2-0 in the final minute, taking advantage when the Rangers turned the puck over during a line change. Lundqvist stopped Reinhart's attempt, but Kane was driving to the net and knocked in the rebound with just under 39 seconds remaining for his ninth.
Bailey made it 3-0 with his first NHL goal 1:03 into the second. Kane trailed Rangers defensemen Kevin Klein after a loose puck up the right side into New York's defensive zone, and Klein sent a pass to the left that Bailey grabbed and fired past Lundqvist while jumping in the air to avoid Klein, who went sliding by.
"It's a game of turnovers and especially when you have a play like that when handling pucks," Bailey said. "I wasn't surprised but happy that I could get up there and score a goal."
NOTES: Sabres C Johan Larsson is out indefinitely and likely lost for the season after having surgery Monday for a dislocated wrist and elbow. Larsson was injured during a 3-1 loss at Boston on Saturday. ... The Sabres have won three in a row against the Rangers for the first time since Dec. 12, 2009, to April 6, 2010. ... Eichel has three goals and four assists in five career games against the Rangers. ... The teams conclude their three-game season series on Feb. 2 at Buffalo. ... Rangers coach Alain Vigneault broke a tie with Herb Brooks for seventh place on franchise's games coached list with 286. ... The Rangers fell to 10-8-0 when giving up the first goal of the game.
Sabres: At Chicago on Thursday night in the finale of a three-game trip.
Rangers: At Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
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