Sabres hope to hear more cheers vs. Golden Knights

The Buffalo Sabres won more than a game Saturday night.

They won their fans back, for now.

When they lost their season opener 4-0 at home to the Boston Bruins Thursday, the Sabres were booed.

The Sabres heard cheers Saturday when they defeated the New York Rangers 3-1 at KeyBank Center as Conor Sheary scored twice and Carter Hutton made 43 saves.

The Sabres (1-1-0) will face a more difficult opponent Monday afternoon when they face the Vegas Gold Knights (1-1-0), the Stanley Cup finalists last season who came back Saturday to defeat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in a shootout.

Hutton said he is looking forward to the challenge presented by the Golden Knights, who added former Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty and former St. Louis Blues center Paul Stastny during the offseason.

“They transition really fast, turn pucks over on you and come at you,” said Hutton, who played for the Blues the past two seasons. “Stastny is like a Swiss army knife. He can do it all. He’s a great pro, good friend of mine. It will be fun to play against him, funny to see him in a Vegas jersey.”

Hutton, who signed with the Sabres as a free agent, has a goals-against average of 2.09 in his first two games, the same as he had in 32 games last season for St. Louis.

“It’s really something else what he did (Saturday) night,” Sabres defenseman Casey Nelson said at practice on Sunday. “He won us a game for sure. That’s what we needed. It was awesome to see him have a big game for us.”

Hutton earned a standing ovation when he stopped a three-on-none break by the Rangers in the second period on Saturday.

“It gives your team a boost of energy and confidence knowing you have a guy who can make a save when you really need it,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said. “He’s a very good veteran. Says the right things in the room and is a very likable guy but at the time he says what’s on his chest. It doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran or rookie, he’s going to leave it out there. I think that guys respect that.”

The Sabres had lost six straight home games dating to last season before Saturday.

The Golden Knights also had an uplifting victory on Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

Pacioretty tied the game with 1:31 remaining in the third period with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury removed for an extra attacker. Erik Haula then scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Knights the win to open their season-long five-game road trip.

“Sometimes results don’t happen there, but they were playing well, and they kept pushing it and pushing it, and it paid off,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “The hockey gods came through late in the game when we played really good. The guys stuck with it. They played hard, and they played our game.”

“We really liked our game,” said Pacioretty, who was acquired in a trade with Montreal last month. “We liked our close support, we liked how we were fast on pucks. We were creating turnovers and getting chances, hit some posts, missed some open chances. We knew eventually it would come. That’s just the way it works.”

The Golden Knights had lost their season opener 5-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers at home and Fleury lasted just 30:11, allowing five goals on 16 shots, but his defense deserted him.

Vegas made up for that Saturday, holding a 42-30 advantage in shots on goal.

Center Johan Larsson (lower-body injury) practiced Sunday with the Sabres but Housley said it has not been determined if he will play Monday. He was injured Sept. 26.