Lundqvist, Vesey lead Rangers to 3-1 win over Sabres

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              New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (30) loses his stick while defending the oal against Buffalo Sabres center Johan Larsson (22) and left wing Jeff Skinner (53) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Henrik Lundqvist was in vintage form in helping the New York Rangers get a big win.

Lundqvist stopped 39 shots and Jimmy Vesey scored twice to lead New York to its third straight victory, 3-1 over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night.

“Hank was outstanding tonight,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “We managed a way to get it done. I thought the third period we did a pretty good job of managing the puck and getting it behind them.”

Neal Pionk also scored for New York, and rookie Brett Howden picked up his sixth assist of the season before leaving with an injury in the second period.

“I think we earned this type of game,” Lundqvist said. “Then in the third, I think we played our best period. Tonight, we made some really strong plays at the right time.”

Lundqvist was stellar while picking up his fourth win of the season and 435th of his career, moving just two behind Jacaues Plante for seventh place on the NHL’s all-time list.

Conor Sheary scored for Buffalo and Carter Hutton made 19 saves.

The Rangers made the most of their first two shots in the middle period, scoring twice within 19 seconds.

“We capitalized on a few chances we had and that was the difference in the game,” Vesey said.

Pionk scored 41 seconds into the period when his wrist shot sailed past Hutton. Vladislav Namestnikov and Mika Zibanejad assisted on the play. On the Rangers’ next shot, Vesey snapped off a wrist shot from the slot to make it 2-0. Howden made a nifty drop pass to set up his linemate.

Howden crashed hard into the boards later in the second before being helped off the ice with about 6 1/2 minutes remaining. He did not return.

Lundqvist appeared to be injured late in the second when Rasmus Dahlin, the first overall pick in June’s NHL draft, collided with his Swedish countrymate. However, after an extended look from the trainer, Lundqvist remained in the game.

Sheary took advantage of a turnover by Brendan Smith to pull the Sabres within one as he scored off his own rebound at 6:07 of the third.

“I really liked the way we played from start to finish,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said. “We would like to take two or three shifts back in the second period. … It’s just important in those situations when it’s a tight hockey game you can’t take a shift off. You can’t let your guard down and they capitalized on some soft coverage. It’s a good lesson to be learned.”

The Rangers had allowed a tying or go-ahead goal in the final minute of their previous three games on the west coast trip but managed to win the last two with the help of a shootout. Sunday, Vesey tallied an empty-netter to seal the deal.

Buffalo finished 0 for 4 on the power play, and New York was 0 for 1.

The Sabres’ top line of Jeff Skinner, Jack Eichel and Jason Pominville has been one of the best trio’s in the NHL since being put together. After combining for 38 points in the previous seven games, they were held scoreless by the Rangers.

NOTES: F Pavel Buchnevich returned to the Rangers’ lineup after being a healthy scratch for the second time this season. … F Chris Kreider skated in his 395th career NHL game. … Rangers F Ryan Spooner missed the game due to a lower-body injury. D Adam McQuaid has missed three straight games and is now considered week-to-week not day-to-day. … Buffalo scratched F Tage Thompson and F Remi Elie along with D Nathan Beaulieu.

UP NEXT

Rangers: Host Montreal on Tuesday night.

Sabres: Host Montreal on Thursday night.