Rangers end October with shutout win over Sabres

Everett Merrill, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- With their 2-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres Thursday night, the New York Rangers ended October on a positive note that saw them lose their top sniper to a concussion and an elongated road trip to start the season that produced little results.
Derick Brassard and Chris Kreider scored for the Rangers and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves for his second shutout this season and 47th of his career at a sold out Madison Square Garden.
"Ever since we came back (from the road trip), the guys have stepped their game up," said Lundqvist. "We're trusting each other more and more and that's a big thing."
The win starts a four-game homestand that will see the Rangers play eight of their next 10 games at the renovated Garden.
New York (5-7), which posted a season-high 46 shots on Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, won consecutive games for the first time this season. It topped the New York Islanders 3-2 on Tuesday.
Kreider provided the Rangers with a 2-0 cushion at 11:21 of the second period. The left winger created a turnover in the neutral zone, then skated to the left of Miller, where he received a cross-crease pass from Mats Zuccarello and banked it off the Buffalo goalie.
The goal was Kreider's second in five games since getting called up from Hartford of the AHL on Oct. 20.
"I said it this morning," said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault of Kreider's recent performance, "you have to give credit where credit is due. The Hartford coaches have done a great job getting him where he needed to be."
New York, which went 3-6 on the early season road trip, scoring just 14 goals while the Garden was being renovated, has been without forward Rick Nash. He missed his ninth game Thursday since suffering the concussion Oct. 8 at San Jose.
The Rangers miss his production, but Kreider has done a nice job filling in, with a career-high six shots against Buffalo in 17:26 of ice time.
"Ever since he's been back, he's been, if not our best forward, then one of our best forwards," Vigneault said. "He's been using his speed and his size. He makes it real tough on the other team's defense and he better keep doing it because we need that from him."
Buffalo's best scoring chance of the first two periods occurred toward the end of the second. Right winger Drew Stafford found space near the right circle, but his wrist shot was turned away by Lundqvist.
With Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers called for tripping, New York took a 1-0 advantage with a power-play goal from Brassard at 8:23 of the first period. Brassard fired a slap shot over Miller's shoulder from the top of the right faceoff circle.
Brassard registered two goals in the last four games and ranks third on the team in scoring with six points (two goals, four assists).
Zuccarello and J.T. Miller were awarded the assists. It was the Rangers eighth power-play goal in 37 chances.
Miller kept his team in the game, stopping 44 shots. He has now faced 405 shots this season, among the most of any goalie in the league.
The Sabres closed out October by losing six of their last seven games.
"It's not that we want this (losing streak) to continue," said Miller. "But everyone has to increase the intensity. It's how bad streaks end. You work your way out of it. That's how I've been taught."
NOTES: Rangers LW Brandon Mashinter, who didn't dress in the team's previous three games, got into a center ice fight with Buffalo C Cody McCormick at 3:16 of the first period. ... Vigneault said before the game that RW Ryan Callahan will miss 7- 10 days with a broken thumb he sustained Oct. 16 at Washington and C Dominic Moore will be out for the same period because of a strained oblique he suffered against the New York Islanders on Tuesday. ... The NHL announced that Sabres LW John Scott has been suspended for seven games without pay for an illegal check to the head of Boston Bruins LW Loui Eriksson on Oct. 23. Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Scott will forfeit $26,923.05. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund. Scott already has served three games of the suspension while awaiting the in-person hearing that was convened Thursday morning. ... Rangers D Dan Girardi skated in his 500th game.

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