BUFFALO, N.Y. – Daniel Briere and Ales Kotalik scored power-play goals to lift the Buffalo Sabres over the New York Rangers 3-1.

Rory Fitzpatrick scored the go-ahead goal 9 minutes into the second period and Ryan Miller stopped 22 shots to win his sixth game. Miller is one victory short of becoming the first rookie goaltender to win seven in the month of October since Ed Belfour in 1990.

Teppo Numminen had two assists for Buffalo, which improved to 4-0 at home – the team’s best home start since opening the 1984-85 season with five straight victories.

Michael Nylander scored for the Rangers, winless in their last three games (0-2-1).

Briere, with his team-leading seventh goal, tied the score at 1 in the first minute of the second period, breaking to the net and backhanding a shot through Henrik Lundqvist’s legs. Briere has five goals in four consecutive games.

Fitzpatrick put the Sabres ahead for good 8 minutes later when his shot from the right circle glanced off the glove of diving Rangers defenseman Darius Kasparaitis, and sneaked in through Lundqvist’s legs.

Kotalik sealed the win, one-timing a shot from the left point with less than 4 minutes left.

Lundqvist was sharp in keeping New York in the game.

His best save came midway through the second period when he got across to somehow get a glove on Numminen’s redirection of Briere’s pass through the crease.

The Rangers thought they tied it with 8:10 left when Jason Ward’s shot from the side of the net deflected off the leg of Sabres’ defenseman Tony Lydman and into Miller’s pads. Rangers players celebrated as if they had scored, but referee Don Van Massenhoven ruled that he had whistled the play dead.

Although the goal light went on, replays were inconclusive as to whether the puck ever crossed the goal line.

Miller’s best save came late in the second period during a scramble in front. The puck rolled to a wide-open Ville Nieminen, who was foiled when Miller threw his stick arm across to knock down the shot.

Notes: At 6-2-0, the Sabres are off to their best start since going 8-0 in 1975-76. … Rangers RW Jaromir Jagr set up Nylander’s goal, extending his point streak to seven games (eight goals, three assists). … The Rangers went 0-of-5 in power-play chances, and failed to register a shot during a 47-second two-man advantage late in the game. New York had previously scored a power-play goal in each of its first nine games.

AP-ES-10-22-05 2201EDT


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