NEW YORK, N.Y. – Henrik Lundqvist was at his busiest when the only thing really in doubt was whether he would skate off with a shutout.
The rest of the New York Rangers took care of beating the lowly Buffalo Sabres up and down the ice.
Lundqvist made 29 saves in his 47th NHL shutout, and Derick Brassard and Chris Kreider provided the offence in the Rangers’ 2-0 win over the Sabres on Thursday night.
“This is definitely a game we wanted to win and needed to win,” said Lundqvist, who served as the backup when the Rangers beat the New York Islanders on Tuesday. “The way we started the game, we set the tone right away.
“We did so many good things. I thought we were all over them pretty much the whole game.”
Ryan Miller shined in defeat as he turned aside 44 shots just to keep his struggling club in it.
Lundqvist, who missed two games last week while nursing an injury, lost 2-0 to Montreal in the home opener on Monday—one night before watching backup Cam Talbot beat the Islanders.
Lundqvist was tested the most in the final few minutes as Buffalo pressed to at least avoid the shutout. Lundqvist stopped a shot with the top of his helmet, deflecting the puck into the crowd, and then robbed Marcus Foligno with 1:20 remaining after Miller was pulled for an extra skater.
The Sabres had only one power play.
“The last five or six minutes they came a little harder,” Lundqvist said, “but we deserved this one for sure.”
Brassard scored a power-play goal in the first period, and Kreider netted his second in two games in the middle period to power Lundqvist’s third win and second shutout this season.
The Rangers (5-7), who played 10 of their first 11 on the road, began a four-game homestand in workmanlike fashion. They recorded a season-high 46 shots.
Buffalo lost its third straight and is a league-worst 2-12-1. The Sabres have been shut out three times.
“If we want this to stop, it will stop,” Miller said. “Everyone has to increase their intensity. When everyone wants this to stop, it will. You have to work your way out of it.
“We have to play hard and work hard for each other. We have to have the right approach. We’re searching. Enough is enough.”
The Rangers followed up a dominant first period with an identical 19-shot outburst in the second. The only thing that kept the game close was Miller.
“Ryan made some extraordinary saves,” said newly acquired forward Matt Moulson, who played his second game with the Sabres. “He really kept us in the game. It could have been more than 2-0.”
Miller could hardly be faulted for Kreider’s goal with 8:39 left in the second. He stopped a drive by Mats Zuccarello and blocked it to his right. Kreider got to the rebound along the goal line and banked a shot off the back of Miller from a tough angle for his second in two games.
“That’s a play I’ve tried a lot,” Kreider said. “I don’t know that it’s ever worked for me. I threw it back out front, because you don’t have any other option. You see the goalie is a little bit out, and best case it goes in.
“It was a whole lot of luck.”
Lundqvist made fine stops in the closing minute of the second to deny Drew Stafford and Jamie McBain from the doorstep. Buffalo doubled its shot output to 12 in the period, but the Sabres were outshot 38-18 through two.
The Sabres put pressure on the Rangers after the game’s opening faceoff, and New York had breakdowns in front of Lundqvist. But Buffalo was kept at bay, and then the Rangers dominated.
New York was buoyed by a pair of power plays—the first resulting in the go-ahead goal.
“We had a good start to the game, but the second half of the first period, it wasn’t there,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said. “We went to the box, and they built up a lot of momentum.
“Our first couple of shifts were good … but it swung quickly after that.”
With Tyler Myers off for tripping, Brassard wound up for a drive from above the right circle that found its way through traffic and a screen by J.T. Miller in front of Miller to make it 1-0 at 8:28. It was Brassard’s second of the season, and the Rangers’ third power-play goal in two games.
Another advantage later in the first produced only one shot. Buffalo had its lone power play in the final two minutes of the period and recorded one shot.
NOTES: The Rangers were without C Dominic Moore, who is expected to be sidelined seven to 10 days because of a strained oblique muscle. … Sabres forward John Scott served the fourth game of a seven-game suspension for a check to the head of Boston forward Loui Eriksson. … Rangers D Dan Girardi played in his 500th NHL game. D Marc Staal played in his 400th. … The Sabres have been outscored 20-2 in the first period. … New York was 5 for 32 on the power play before the past two games.