for this game

Drury, Sabres storm past struggling Rangers

Oct 15, 2006 - 1:44 AM BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- With their home city completely buried in snow, Chris Drury and the Buffalo Sabres produced a storm of their own.

Drury recorded his first career hat trick as the Sabres erased an early deficit en route to a 7-4 triumph over the New York Rangers.

The victory could not have come at a better time for the Sabres, whose home fans were ravaged by a rare October snow storm on Friday. The Weather Channel reported on its web site that three deaths were attributed to the storm, which covered the area with nearly 23 inches of snow.

"It was important to get back (to Buffalo)," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, whose squad posted a 3-2 win at Detroit on Friday. "Once we got the news, we were able to get out and get back and get things settled. That was good news for the team."

"Everyone's mind the last 2 1/2 days has probably been elsewhere," Drury said. "Hopefully, our effort, our two wins - if people we able to listen to it - lifted their spirits for a few hours."

The Sabres gave their beleaguered fans something to cheer about with a furious offensive outburst bridging the first and second periods.

After Ales Kotalik tallied at 14:52 of the first period to draw Buffalo within 2-1, Drury forged a tie with his first goal, a power-play tally at 17:41. Drury gathered a rebound near the left goalpost and banged home the puck past goaltender Kevin Weekes.

Buffalo took the lead for good 76 seconds later when Daniel Briere took a feed from Jason Pominville and buried a shot past Weekes.

"They do it consistently and well and at a high tempo," Weekes said. "When you're playing a high-tempo back pressure game, all of the sudden, you force that opponent to have to force their offensive attack and not be as comfortable making offensive rushes. In that sense, they're able to dictate the game."

The Sabres carried the offensive momentum into the second period as Maxim Afinogenov and Jochen Hecht both tallied over the first nine minutes of the session to extend the cushion to 5-2.

"Once we got to that six-minute mark in the first period, we really found our game," Ruff said. "I thought that was as good as I've seen us play in the first five games. That looked like our team, the type of chances we generated."

New York's Brendan Shanahan netted his second goal of the contest at 12:52 of the second period to cut the deficit to 5-3. However, Drury took over from there, tallying twice over a 64-second of to give Buffalo a four-goal advantage.

Drury scored his second goal at 15:16 of the middle session after taking a feed from Afinogenov and lifting a backhander into the top-left corner. He completed the hat trick at 16:20 with his sixth goal of the season, a tally off a rebound at the doorstep.

"We were really moving it around," Drury said. "It was really bouncing around at the crease. I was able to get a whack at it as I was falling down."

Briere and defenseman Jaroslav Spacek each added a pair of assists for the Sabres, who have won their first five games this season. Buffalo provided more than enough offense for netminder Ryan Miller, who stopped 19 shots.

"There is a lot of hardship right now," Miller said of the Sabres fans. "A lot of people being inconvenienced, having a tough time at home. To have (the fans) come out, I thought the reaction was priceless. They just had a great night in the middle of this state of emergency. They were having a lot of fun. We're happy to provide it."

Ruff also was impressed with the raucous crowd of 18,690 at HSBC Arena.

"We've always said our fans are the absolute best and tonight proved it," he said. "I looked around and didn't see an empty seat. If there was, there weren't many. You go outside and look around and in some places, it's absolute devastation. ... That's a big enough lift for our team alone."

Weekes made 25 saves for the Rangers, who have yielded a total of 17 goals in losing their last three contests.

"I'd like them to be disappointed to say, 'That's it, that's enough," New York coach Tom Renney said of his struggling club. "I think they are, but there's that underlying theme of being somewhat fragile and playing not to lose and opposed to playing to win. We have to play to win."