for this game

Vanek works both ends of ice as Sabres edge Rangers

Apr 28, 2007 - 6:56 AM
BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- Their power play had the New York Rangers feeling good about themselves after two periods. Chris Drury and Thomas Vanek helped bring out entirely different emotions in the third.

Drury forged a tie 24 seconds into the third period and Vanek snapped it midway through the session as the Buffalo Sabres took a two-games-to-none lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Rangers with a 3-2 victory.

Defenseman Brian Campbell added a goal and an assist for Buffalo, which looks to put New York in a nearly insurmountable hole when the series shifts to Madison Square Garden for Game Three on Sunday.

"I can't do any more than continue to prepare our team," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "We go home now, where we've been good. I know this isn't over, and our guys feel the same way."

"You have to win four games in this series," New York captain Jaromir Jagr added. "They're closer than us. No problem. They probably think it's over. You never know. A series can change on one play."

Sabres netminder Ryan Miller was not willing to bite after getting wind of Jagr's comments regarding Buffalo being overconfident.

"We're not going to start playing these games," Miller said. "If they start telling us what to think, then the series is over for us. They've been trying to put thoughts in our heads for the last three or four days.

"We're going to go to Madison Square Garden, play good hockey and see where that takes us. By no means is this series over. I don't think the Rangers need to speak for us."

Entering with the fourth-best power play (20.7 percent) in the playoffs, the Rangers carried a 2-1 lead into the final period on the strength of man-advantage tallies by Martin Straka and blue-liner Paul Mara. New York also held a 22-9 advantage in shots after 40 minutes.

"The first two periods weren't our best," Drury admitted. "We knew we could do better. It was a one-goal game and we didn't get moving yet."

But the edge was erased less than one-half minute into the third, thanks to a poor play by New York's Marek Malik. Attempting to clear the puck out of his own zone from the left corner, the defenseman backhanded it up the middle of the ice, a cardinal sin in the sport.

"I was aiming for (teammate) Michael Nylander, but I put it too much in front of him," Malik said.

"It's disappointing," Renney said. "Nobody's going to be more frustrated or disappointed than (Malik). It's something we have to eliminate. We can't give free pucks away, between the dots or from one end to the other."

Buffalo's Toni Lydman was there to stop it at the blue line and fired a one-timer that Drury redirected past goaltender Henrik Lundqvist from the low slot for his fifth goal of the postseason and a 2-2 tie.

"The timing was pretty good," Drury said. "We talked about coming out and having a great first five minutes. Fortunately, we got one right away, and it extremely energized our bench a little bit."

"They scored on the first shift," Jagr said. "That's what gave them the jump."

Vanek took over from there, both offensively and defensively. Rookie Drew Stafford had possession at the inner edge of the right faceoff circle and backhanded a pass between the legs of Blair Betts to Vanek, who had a step on Mara in the slot and whacked the puck by Lundqvist at 10:11, giving the Sabres their first lead of the game.

It was the fifth goal of the playoffs for the 23-year-old Austrian, who led Buffalo with 43 during the regular season. Vanek also led the NHL with a plus-47 rating.

After Miller made a big save on Jagr's redirection with 2:03 remaining, Vanek got his stick in the way of Matt Cullen's backhander, preventing New York from getting the equalizer.

"I think he is (becoming a star)," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said of Vanek, who also scored the winning goal in Game One. "I think it's been a learning year, a growing year, a maturing year. He made a big-time tip and a big-time goal."

The Rangers received another chance to draw even when Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere was called for cross-checking with 1:54 to go but managed just one shot against Miller, who finished with 31 saves.

"Danny's been a great leader for us. We had to bail him out," Miller said. "I didn't see the call. I was kind of curious why (Sean) Avery didn't get called for punching him in the face."

"He's a great goalie," Jagr said. "I just hope sooner or later he's going to break down."

New York's Brendan Shanahan also felt the frustration created by Miller's strong play.

"If not for Miller making a couple of great saves (in the third), we're probably going out for overtime right now," he said.

However, Renney was not willing to give the Sabres' All-Star goalie all the credit.

"You never want to suggest that one player made the difference in the game," he said. "He certainly played very well. If he's not having an A game, maybe we take this contest. We scored a couple of goals on him that we thought exposed some parts of his game, but he made some terrific saves. They have so much firepower that you have to look beyond one guy, no matter how it looks on paper."

Straka opened the scoring with a power-play tally at 10:08 of the first period, unleashing a one-timer from the blue line that sneaked between Miller's body and right arm for his first postseason goal since 2001. Jagr recorded an assist on the play, tying him with Columbus' Sergei Fedorov for third among active players with 163 career playoff points.

The lead lasted just 50 seconds, however, as Campbell fired a wrist shot from the right circle past a crowd and inside the left goalpost for a man-advantage tally of his own.

"(Lundqvist) couldn't see it," Campbell said. "Drury and (Dainius) Zubrus went to the net and he really didn't have a chance. You can't fault him when I had a lot of time to shoot and he had two guys screening him. I had to put it in the right spot."

After Marcel Hossa hit the crossbar and Miller made a superb glove save on Cullen during a 2-on-1 rush in the final two minutes of the first, Mara gave New York a 2-1 lead late in the second with his first career postseason goal.

With Cullen skating across the slot to provide a screen, Mara beat Miller with a wrister from above the left circle with 80 seconds left in the period. Shanahan notched the 67th assist of his playoff career on the play, knotting him with injured teammate Sandis Ozolinsh for 10th among active players.








  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NY RANGERS 1 1 0 2
    BUFFALO 1 0 2 3 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NYR - (PP) MARTIN STRAKA 1 (MICHAL ROZSIVAL, JAROMIR JAGR)
    10:08
    BUF - (PP) BRIAN CAMPBELL 3 (TIM CONNOLLY, CHRIS DRURY)
    10:58
    2ND PRD: NYR - (PP) PAUL MARA 1 (BRENDAN SHANAHAN, KAREL RACHUNEK)
    18:42
    3RD

    Apr 27 9:46 PM
  • 15
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 15 roots

    Rangers vs. SabresApr 27 9:40 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NY RANGERS 2
    BUFFALO 3
    3RD PRD: BUF - THOMAS VANEK 5 (DREW STAFFORD, BRIAN CAMPBELL) 10:11

    Rangers vs. SabresApr 27 9:25 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NY RANGERS 2
    BUFFALO 2
    3RD PRD: BUF - CHRIS DRURY 5 (TONI LYDMAN) 0:24

    Rangers vs. SabresApr 27 9:09 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NY RANGERS 1 1 2
    BUFFALO 1 0 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NYR - (PP) MARTIN STRAKA 1 (MICHAL ROZSIVAL, JAROMIR JAGR)
    10:08
    BUF - (PP) BRIAN CAMPBELL 3 (TIM CONNOLLY, CHRIS DRURY)
    10:58
    2ND PRD: NYR - (PP) PAUL MARA 1 (BRENDAN SHANAHAN, KAREL RACHUNE

    Apr 27 8:49 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NY RANGERS 2
    BUFFALO 1
    2ND PRD: NYR - (PP) PAUL MARA 1 (BRENDAN SHANAHAN, KAREL RACHUNEK)
    18:42

    Rangers vs. SabresApr 27 8:49 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NY RANGERS 1 1
    BUFFALO 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NYR - (PP) MARTIN STRAKA 1 (MICHAL ROZSIVAL, JAROMIR JAGR)
    10:08
    BUF - (PP) BRIAN CAMPBELL 3 (TIM CONNOLLY, CHRIS DRURY)
    10:58
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----


    Apr 27 7:52 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NY RANGERS 1
    BUFFALO 1
    1ST PRD: BUF - (PP) BRIAN CAMPBELL 3 (TIM CONNOLLY, CHRIS DRURY) 10:58

    Rangers vs. SabresApr 27 7:38 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NY RANGERS 1
    BUFFALO 0
    1ST PRD: NYR - (PP) MARTIN STRAKA 1 (MICHAL ROZSIVAL, JAROMIR JAGR)
    10:08

    Rangers vs. SabresApr 27 7:34 PM