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Sabres Central

Sabres Squash Rangers 6-3
By Rick Anderson
February 6, 2001

J.P. Dumont, who scored his first goal since before Christmas, weaves his way through the Rangers' Petr Nedved (L), and Tomas Kloucek. Dumont hadn't scored in 18 games prior to netting the game's first goal.
[AP Photo/Mark Lennihan]

The Buffalo Sabres, playing their first game since before the All Star break, came out loaded for bear as they squashed the New York Rangers 6-3 in Madison Square Garden. This was a game that the Sabres really needed. They had been in a scoring funk since the beginning of the year as nothing seemed to be going into the nets. Now, in this game, everything seemed to be going in.

Three of the Sabres forwards who have been having severe problems getting the puck into the net scored against the Rangers. JP Dumont broke an 19-game scoring drought by getting the first goal of the game with only 1:24 gone in the first period. Miroslav Satan, who also has been in a scoring funk all season, got the Sabres last goal of the night.

The Sabres took a quick 3-0 lead in the first period, but the Rangers fought back and scored 2 goals to get right back into the game.

"We found out tonight that when we give them a chance to come back, they come back with some big goals," Dumont said. "We just got back right away on them and scored some big goals, too."

The Rangers, who have the highest payroll in the NHL, looked pathetic to say the least.

"I must be speaking gobbledygook, the message is just not getting across," Rangers coach Ron Low fumed. "The accountability does not seem to be there. There has got to be a gut check in that room. With a $60-million payroll, there has to be accountability."

"Obviously they didn't seem to be ready for the game," commented Andreychuk who led the way with a goal and two assists.

Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek, though he allowed 3 goals, was on top of his game against the Rangers, making 24 saves. Hasek made several splendid saves that kept the Rangers from making this a much closer game.

Power Surge

This game was just what the doctor ordered. Struggling to just score 1 or 2 goals a game, the Sabres finally rediscovered their scoring touch as they torched Rangers' goalie Mike Richter for 6 goals, the most they have scored all season.

The Sabres came out of the gates smoking. Stu Barnes, chasing the puck behind the Rangers net, made a beautiful backhand pass to Dumont storming in front of the net. Dumont, who has been as snake-bitten as any Sabre, finally notched his 16th of the season after what appeared eternity without a goal. The goal came only 1:24 after the opening faceoff.

Rangers goalie Mike Richter, who had a disastrous night allowing 6 goals, prepares to stop Buffalo's Chris Gratton as he positions himself to the side of the net in the first period.
[AP Photo/Mark Lennihan]

The Sabres took a quick 2-0 lead when Jay McKee scored just 1 minute and 13 seconds after Dumont's goal. Maxim Afinogenov, who has been criticized by both the fans and Sabres coach Lindy Ruff not being a team player, made a perfect pass to McKee coming in hard down the middle. McKee's snap shot beat Mike Richter and the Sabres looked like they were ready to roll. It was McKee's first goal in 52 games.

"I knew it was a while, I didn't know it was that long," said McKee.

"I didn't get much on my shot, and I caught him off-guard," McKee said about his goal. "From there he was shaking his head."

Richard Smehlik made it 3-0 Sabres when he converted a Brian Leetch turnover and his long shot beat Richter. However, the Rangers broke Dominik Hasek's early shutout bid when Petr Nedved scored only 13 seconds after Smehlik's goal.

Only 2:22 into the second period, Mark Messier scored his 17th goal of theseason when the Rangers had a powerplay to put New York back into the game.

The Sabres then scored three straight goals for the second time in the game when Stu Barnes got his 14th of the season when he got a wrist shot past Richter while the Sabres had a man advantage. His goal came 1:58 after Messier's goal. With a little more than 2 minutes remaining in the second stanza, big Dave Andreychuk notched his 11th of the season on a slap shot.

Before the game with the Rangers, the Sabres had been in a serious scoring funk and that caused them to win only once in six contests. During that span, Buffalo had scored a measly 8 goals, or a terrible 1.33 goals per game average. And this was after winning a 1-0 game against Florida, which put their 7 game average to only 1.29 goals per game.

"Coming off the break, everybody wants to get off to a good start," said Andreychuk . "That's the best that we can do, especially on the road."

The Sabres knew that they had Richter's number early in this game and the Rangers' defense wasn't helping him out. Richter was left out to hang and the Sabres shooters finally took advantage of it. Satan, who has been struggling like most of the Sabres forwards this season, scored his 16th of the season almost 4 minutes into the third period on another powerplay, making it 6-2.

Jeff Ulmer got his first goal of the season when a wrist shot beat Hasek to close the scoring 7:60 into 3rd period.

The Sabres come home to play the New York Islanders Wednesday. The last time they played the Isles, Buffalo won 2-1.

Sabres Talk

This was a milestone night for Doug Gilmour, who with an assist reached 900 assists in his NHL career, only the 13th NHL player to do so. "I think when you work hard and you work throughout a game, you're going to have some goals," said Gilmour. "We lost two games coming into this. We had a little break here and this was very, very important to our hockey club to come out hard."

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was relieved that the Sabres started hitting the back of the net, no matter who the opposition was.

"The puck just started going into the net," commented Ruff. "We had those opportunities before the break and we just couldn't bury them. Some players on some long skids got out of their droughts."

Ruff was worried about how the Sabres would come out after the All-Star layoff.

"That's every coach's fear," said Ruff . "When you come off the All-Star break with a few days off, you're afraid you might play sloppy. We took advantage of that."

McKee, who hadn't scored since last year, was happy not only with the goal but also the victory.

"That was huge," said McKee about the win. "It just goes to show that hopefully we're getting ourselves out of it (the offensive slump)."


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