The Sabres beat the Rangers 3-1 in New York on Friday, moving to within five points of the New York Islanders for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
Last season, the Sabres finished 12th in the conference with a 27-37-10-8 record as talk of bankruptcy swirled around the franchise.
“They way I look at it, the seventh and eighth teams in the conference will be three or four games over .500,” said Buffalo goalie Martin Biron, who made 33 saves. “That’s where we’ve got to get. We’ve got a lot of big games upcoming against conference teams and we’re trying to get on a roll.”
Daniel Briere and Chris Drury each scored power-play goals, and Ales Kotalik added an empty-netter for the Sabres, who have won four of their last five (4-1-0) since snapping a three-game losing streak.
The Rangers have lost six of seven, slipping a point behind both Buffalo and Atlanta in the conference standings.
“We’ve put ourselves in a bit of a hole here,” captain Mark Messier said. “We’re looking up again. We have to find a way to win games.”
“We don’t have much time left,” Purinton said. “Every game is huge, and we’ve got to do something to win some. The time to press the panic button is here.”
Jaromir Jagr, acquired from the Washington Capitals in a blockbuster trade on Jan. 23, was held without a point for the third time since joining the Rangers. His only points for New York came Monday, when he had a goal and two assists against Florida.