Skapski, Yandle help lift Rangers past Sabres 2-0
Mar. 15, 2015
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Mackenzie Skapski keeps checking off career milestones against the Buffalo Sabres.
The New York Rangers' rookie goaltender made 20 saves to pick up his first NHL shutout in a 2-0 win over Buffalo, three weeks after beating the Sabres to pick up his first NHL win.
"I didn't even digest the win yet, let alone the shutout," Skapski said.
The Rangers made him sweat it out despite their last-place opponent. Keith Yandle's third-period goal broke a scoreless tie, and Martin St. Louis added an empty net goal to finish off the Rangers' fourth-straight win.
"He gave us a chance to win the hockey game," defenseman Marc Staal said. "It's good for him. It's a good milestone for a goalie. It's great he can get it early."
The Rangers have the best record in the league after Saturday's win, and are 13-1-2 since Feb. 8.
"We have a very underrated offensive defensive team," Skapski said. "That's what makes us the best team in the NHL right now."
After killing off a penalty, the Rangers broke the scoreless deadlock when Yandle's high wrist shot from the point went through a maze of players to beat a screened Anders Lindback.
"I thought for a second that I didn't know if it got tipped, so maybe I shouldn't celebrate," Yandle said. "I don't really remember too much."
The goal was Yandle's first since being acquired from Arizona on March 1. All four wins on the streak have come on the road, as the Rangers have allowed just two goals.
Lindback made 32 saves for the Sabres, losers of six in a row and mired in last place in the Eastern Conference.
Skapski stopped Tyler Ennis with his mask on a breakaway 6:16 into the first period after the Sabres center got separation from the Rangers' Marc Staal.
"Approaching the game, I'd only played 60 minutes in the NHL so I was a little bit nervous," Skapski said. "That breakaway save in the first period kind of settled me down and I had a quick break in the second period where it was a 2-on-1 play and that propelled me through the rest of the game."
Early on, Lindback appeared shaky in the Sabres' crease, but managed to make a number of off-kilter saves — including one on a high wrister by Mats Zuccarello.
"(Lindback) played a great game in net, made some great saves," Ennis said. "We played solid tonight. I think if our power play could've gotten one, it would've been a different story."
Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh keyed an end-to-end rush that culminated in a 2-on-1 chance and a penalty to Sabres defenseman Andrej Meszaros. The Rangers hit two goal posts on the ensuing power play.
Skapski slid across to glove a wide-open and high one-timer from Brian Gionta early in the second. Moments later, he stopped Matt Moulson's point-blank wrist shot.
"His only two NHL wins are against us; his only two NHL games are against us," said Sabres defenseman Mike Weber. "I mean, we tried to come at him a little bit harder than our last outing at home against them."
A three-player combination play with McDonagh, Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller almost put the Rangers on the board, but Miller's low shot slid wide of the goal. Soon after, Dominic Moore had a short-handed chance and his back-hander shot was turned away by Lindback.
St. Louis appeared to have Lindback beaten off a pass from Matt Hunwick, but the prone Sabres goaltender kicked out his left pad, diverting the shot off his left post.
"We had quite a few chances to score," Staal said. "But their goalie played well, made some big saves for them."
The Rangers earned an early third-period power play when Phil Varone went in the box for tripping, but Lindback made a trio of saves to keep the game scoreless.
NOTES: Lindback played in his 100th NHL game. ... Sabres D Zach Bogosian was scratched from the lineup.