Sheary scores twice in Sabres’ 3-1 win over Rangers
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — After being booed at home throughout a shutout loss to open the season, the Buffalo Sabres gave their fans something to cheer about.
Conor Sheary scored two goals and Carter Hutton made 43 saves as the Sabres beat the New York Rangers 3-1 on Saturday night for their first victory of the season.
“We knew this was an important one,” Sheary said. “We kind of got spanked in our home opener there, so we wanted to come out and have a strong effort and it was good to get two points.”
Captain Jack Eichel added an empty-net goal in the final seconds and had an assist for the Sabres, who snapped a six-game losing streak at KeyBank Center dating to last season.
“It’s great to get a win on home ice,” Eichel said. “We were desperate. We won battles when we needed to. It’s great to see us get a team win like that.”
Hutton, who led the NHL in save percentage and goals-against average as a backup in St. Louis last season, drew a standing ovation during his first win as the Sabres’ starter when he made a sliding save against Howden on a three-man breakaway in the second period. Hutton held up against 14 shots (six on power plays) while the Rangers controlled the action for most of the first period. He made 19 saves in the third period.
“Our goalie was our best player tonight, and sometimes that needs to be the case,” Eichel said. “Credit to Hutts. I thought he was tremendous.”
Sheary, acquired in an offseason trade with Pittsburgh, scored both of his goals on power plays and played on the Sabres’ top line. The former linemate of Sidney Crosby was moved up from Buffalo’s second group of forwards in the third period of the 4-0 opening loss to Boston.
Rookie Brett Howden scored off a rebound with 4:39 remaining in the game for the Rangers, who started a two-game trip by falling to 0-2 under first-year coach David Quinn.
“I thought we played pretty well but I don’t think we played winning hockey enough throughout the game,” Quinn said. “We did a lot of good things better than we did the other night. At the end of the day, though, this is a game of taking advantage of your opportunities and they took advantage of two of theirs and we only took advantage of one of ours.”
Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves for New York. The Rangers outshot the Sabres in all three periods and finished with a 44-29 advantage in shots on goal.
“The difference was special teams,” Lundqvist said. “If you look at how hard we played and the amount of chances we had, we should be happy about that. At the same time, this league isn’t about playing great, it’s just making key plays at the right time and finding a way to win games. That’s what it’s all about.”
Rangers center Filip Chytil went to the locker room in the second period after taking a hit to the head from Buffalo’s Patrik Berglund but was able to return.
“I had a big problem with the hit,” Quinn said. “He didn’t have the puck and they hit him in the head. From what I’ve been told already, the league is already looking at it.”
Sheary skated off the bench to score Buffalo’s first goal of the season with 6:45 left in the first period. Rasmus Ristolainen set up Sheary’s wrist shot from the left circle on a 2-on-1 rush.
“When that first one went in, truthfully for me, it was nice to hear the roar of the crowd,” Hutton said.
Replays showed the Sabres had six men on the ice when Casey Mittlestadt created the scoring chance with a backhand pass from the right board to Ristolainen.
Eichel and Sam Reinhart pinged the puck to Sheary for his second goal from the right side of the net 1:42 into the second period.
NOTES: Sheary recorded his eighth multi-goal game and his teams are 8-0-0 in those games. His last came in a Penguins win over the Sabres on Nov. 14, 2017. ... F Remi Elie made his Sabres debut after being claimed off waivers from Dallas on Thursday. Elie replaced Vladimir Sobotka, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury sustained during the season-opening loss to Boston. ... Rangers F Cody McLeod entered the lineup in place of Vladislav Namestnikov (healthy scratch). ... Eichel played for Quinn during his lone season at Boston University in 2014-15. ... Hutton is now 4-0-0 with a .960 save percentage and 1.35 goals-against average in five career appearances against the Rangers.
Rangers: Conclude a back-to-back at Carolina on Sunday. Backup goaltender Alexandar Georgiev will get the start.
Sabres: Continue their four-game homestand with a matinee against Las Vegas on Monday.