Briere's shootout goal give Sabres their 20th winDec 2, 2006 - 4:10 AM
Briere netted the clincher in the shootout after fellow co-captain Chris Drury forged a tie with his 15th goal of the season as the Sabres completed a four-game season sweep of the New York Rangers with a 4-3 triumph.
In defeating New York for the third straight time beyond regulation, Buffalo became the first team to reach the 20-win plateau this season and fifth in league history to open with 20 victories in its first 25 contests.
"We've worked for each other and found ways to win," Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller said. "It (has) carried over from last year. We've done a good job of putting it back in the locker room. I really believe the difference between us and some teams out there with skill is a game like this."
"You know you want to get a point out of it," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "Every point is big. Not every game is going to be textbook or to the script. It looked like we hadn't played in a while. It was still the risk."
Briere opened the shootout by beating netminder Kevin Weekes inside the left goalpost. After that, Miller denied Michael Nylander, Brendan Shanahan and Petr Prucha to preserve the victory.
"I watch highlights like everyone else," Miller said. "I'm watching every game, and usually, they show every breakaway. I've seen Shanahan pull that move before when he comes in and goes five-hole. It's high glove or five-hole with him."
After scoring in overtime against the Rangers on Sunday, Drury netted his fifth of the season against New York midway through the third period by kicking Maxim Afinogenov's pass to his stick and putting a shot past Weekes' right pad.
"(Defenseman) Brian Campbell made a good play in the neutral zone," Drury said. "I was coming from the bench, so I had some speed, got a good drop to (Afinogenov). He made a real nice play back to me. I was able to get behind the defense (and) get to the net."
"It's a great move. It's a power move," Weekes said. "He's an upstanding guy. He always comes to play every game. I have a healthy respect for him. He's done it many times before and I'm sure he'll do it many times again."
New York took advantage of Campbell's slashing penalty to tie the game at 2-2 less than 7 1/2 minutes into the third. Jaromir Jagr made a cross-ice feed from the right faceoff circle to Martin Straka, who netted his 15th goal and fifth in four games.
Just 46 seconds later, Nylander gave the Rangers the lead by firing the rebound of Straka's shot over a diving Miller at 8:06 for his 10th goal.
"We stayed out of the penalty box, and that will give most teams in this league an opportunity to at least play with your opponent, if not do better than that," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "We certainly gave ourselves a chance tonight. And I thought, generally, territorially, we were good against this team and maybe deserved a better fate."
Jochen Hecht scored his sixth tally, Campbell added his fourth and Miller made 36 saves for Buffalo, which has won all eight games against Atlantic Division opponents this season.
Defenseman Michal Rozsival netted his third goal and Weekes stopped 16 shots for the Rangers, who went beyond regulation for the fourth straight game.
"In this league, everyone can compete against anybody," Jagr said. "You can beat anybody on any night. Of course, they're probably the best team right now, but every night starts at 0-0. We had our chances. All of them went overtime or shootout. We made some mistakes. It cost us the game."
Although he has 12 goals this season and recently passed the 600 mark, Jagr was not too disappointed he was not selected for the shootout.
"I know there are better scorers than me," Jagr said. "I would go fourth (or) fifth. I feel comfortable, I'm going to go. There's no reason if I don't feel good to go."
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