Drury had his first three-goal game and added an assist to help the Buffalo Sabres win their fifth consecutive game, 7-4 over the New York Rangers on Saturday night.
“It’s not something I’ve been sitting up and thinking about. It’s just one of those things that you never know,” said Drury, who was playing his 556th NHL game. “I’m certainly glad it came in a win, and a comeback win in our building.”
Buffalo, which reached the Eastern Conference final last season, is off to its best start since winning its first eight games in the 1975-76 season.
It was the third time this season that Buffalo has come back from a two-goal deficit to win, and the second consecutive game the Sabres started down 2-0. The Sabres came from behind Friday night against Detroit to beat the Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout.
“Well, eventually we’re going to have to learn to score a little earlier,” said Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, who won for the fourth time by making 19 saves. “But we’ve been doing fine. We feel like we can score at any time, so we’re not going to let a goal or two dictate the way we’re going to play.”
Daniel Briere had a goal and two assists while Ales Kotalik, Maxim Afinogenov, and Jochen Hecht also scored. Overall, 10 players recorded a point for the Sabres, who erased New York’s 2-0 first-period lead in lightning-quick fashion.
The Sabres began their offensive onslaught when Kotalik scored his first goal of the season with five minutes left in the first. Drury and Briere then scored 1:16 apart late in the period to give Buffalo a 3-2 lead.
The Sabres were outshot by an 11-1 margin in the first 15 minutes before outshooting the Rangers by a 10-1 edge over the final five minutes of the period.
Afinogenov and Hecht each scored to start the second to give Buffalo a 5-2 advantage before New York’s Brendan Shanahan scored his sixth goal, and second of the game, to cut the lead to 5-3.
Drury followed with two goals 1:04 apart to give Buffalo a 7-3 lead after two periods. His third goal, and sixth of the season, came on the power play when he outmuscled New York defenceman Aaron Ward to a loose puck in the crease, sliding it past Rangers goalie Kevin Weekes.
“It was laying around in the crease and I was able to get a whack at it as I was falling down,” Drury said.
Weekes was making his first start for the Rangers.
The game was played despite the region still recovering from a crippling snow storm that began late Thursday night. Nearly 350,000 households were still without power in Buffalo and its surrounding suburbs.
The power outage, however, didn’t seem to affect the sellout crowd, as there were few no-shows.
“You see the number of people show up … kudos to them,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. “That was a big lift for our team.”
Shanahan had two goals, and Martin Straka and Fedor Tyutin also scored for the Rangers, who lost their third straight game.
“The way we started the game we were in their face,” Shanahan said. “They scored a couple of goals and got the crowd behind them. We were back on our heels and not a very confident group.”
The Rangers have allowed 13 goals in their last two games, and were outshot 28-5 during a 25-minute stretch bridging the first and second periods.
“We picked the wrong night to give the puck away to the Buffalo Sabres,” New York coach Tom Renney said. “Not only did they put the puck in the net, but they dominated.”
Notes: The Rangers were originally scheduled to arrive in Buffalo on Friday, but changed their plans and came into the city on Saturday. … The Sabres had no problems arriving from Detroit. … Both Drury and Shanahan have points in all five of their games this season, and both have scored in three straight. … Drury’s four points tied a career-high. … The Sabres donned their retro-blue uniforms that they wore from 1970-96.