- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 21, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Former Buffalo captain Chris Drury scored during New York’s three-goal second period that carried the Rangers to a 5-3 victory over the sliding Sabres on Saturday night.

Ryan Callahan and Nikolai Zherdev added goals in the decisive middle frame after Markus Naslund staked the Rangers to a 1-0 lead in the first. New York won its third straight and moved eight points ahead of 10th-place Buffalo, which is falling out of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves, and Callahan sealed the win by scoring an empty-netter with 24.8 seconds left.

Patrick Lalime allowed four goals on 19 shots and was replaced by Mikael Tellqvist at the start of the third. Including Buffalo’s 6-4 home loss to Philadelphia on Friday, Lalime gave up 10 goals on 50 shots in a 24-hour span.

Daniel Paille cut the Sabres’ deficit to 2-1 in the second, and Clarke MacArthur and Toni Lydman brought Buffalo to 4-3 in the third, but Buffalo lost its fourth straight (0-3-1), The Sabres are 3-7-2 since No. 1 goalie Ryan Miller injured an ankle when he was run into by Rangers forward Scott Gomez during a 4-2 win on Feb. 21.

Miller has begun skating again, but isn’t ready to play. By the time he is healthy, the Sabres’ playoff hopes could be gone.

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff had called Gomez’s hit on Miller intentional, and the Rangers alternate captain appeared to be an early target. In the first period, defenseman Toni Lydman drove Gomez hard into the end boards, and several post-whistle skirmishes broke out.

Sean Avery, who has six points in eight games since being reacquired by the Rangers, was in the middle of a few. He stuck his fingers into the faceshield protecting Thomas Vanek’s broken jaw and tugged it during a stoppage.

Avery, who had a three-game goal streak snapped Wednesday in the Rangers’ victory at Montreal, assisted on Zherdev’s 21st that pushed New York’s lead to 4-1. He was originally credited with the goal that went to Zherdev.

Less than 3 minutes after Lauri Korpikoski’s unsuccessful penalty shot, Naslund gave the Rangers the lead with his 22nd. Nik Antropov send a pass from right wing in front that bounced off New York defenseman Marc Staal and came to Naslund for a tuck-in at the right post at 9:01.

Drury doubled New York’s advantage 2:25 into the second with a power-play goal _ a nifty deflection in the air of Paul Mara’s shot.

As that goal was being announced, Paille brought the Sabres within 2-1 when teammate Dominic Moore banked in a shot off his skate.

Callahan needed only 2:33 to get that one back for the Rangers, 7-3-1 since John Tortorella took over for fired coach Tom Renney. Callahan forced defenseman Jaroslav Spacek into a bad pass at the left point that was intercepted by Brandon Dubinsky, who then fed the puck to Callahan as he raced the other way on a breakaway.

Zherdev made it 4-1 with 2:34 left in the second. The Sabres cut the deficit to two goals on MacArthur’s 13th goal, scored 18 seconds into the third. Lydman trimmed the lead to 4-3 with 1:20 left.

Notes:@ Drury’s co-captain on the Sabres, Danny Briere, scored two goals for Philadelphia at Buffalo on Friday. … Korpikoski was awarded the penalty shot after being tripped by Spacek. … Buffalo won the season series 3-1.

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