BUFFALO, N.Y. — Rookie Alexandar Georgiev stopped 31 shots, including 13 in the final period, and the New York Rangers rolled to a 6-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.
After the game Sabres head coach Phil Housley blasted his team going so far as calling them "soft." Housley said "We thought it was going to be easy and New York worked. Give them credit. They cycled the puck well. We didn’t pin a guy in a cycle. We didn’t kill a play. We just let them roam and now we’re just riding our checks. And it just looks like we’re soft. You have to understand desperation at this time of the season. Every shift counts, every play counts, the details of the game, that’s what’s disappointing because you feel we’re moving in the right direction and we take a step back."
Housley was clearly agitated after the loss. He expected more from his team. The Sabres will practice Saturday and then head to New Jersey for Sunday's game against the Devils.
Vladislav Namestnikov scored twice in the final four minutes, while also adding an assist. Jesper Fast and Boo Nieves staked the Rangers to a 2-0 lead in the first period, and Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich also scored.
New York improved to 8-5-1 in its past 14 and earned its 58th point to move into 12th in the Eastern Conference standings.
Buffalo squandered a chance to close the gap on idle Pittsburgh in the race for the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot. The Sabres have 63 points and remain four behind the Penguins.
Jeff Skinner scored twice for Buffalo, including his team-leading 36th, and Linus Ullmark stopped 23 shots.
With the Rangers up 3-2, Georgiev was particularly sharp in the opening six minutes of the third period. First, he got across to his left to stop Rasmus Dahlin's one-timer 58 second in. Some five minutes later, the goalie squared up in his crease to stop Tage Thompson's shot from the slot.
Georgiev won his third straight start. He was coming off a 55-save performance in a 4-1 win over Toronto on Sunday.
Buchnevich put New York up 4-2 by tapping in Kevin Hayes' pass into the open left side with 4:01 left. Namestnikov then scored into an open net off the ensuing faceoff after Ullmark misplayed the puck. It caromed off Ullmark's stick and toward the front of the net to Namestnikov.
The Sabres closed their seven-game homestand at 3-3-1 while continuing a lengthy string of inconsistent outings.
Coming off a 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday, Buffalo was trying to win consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 11-13.
Skinner cut the Rangers' lead to 2-1 by one-timing in Jason Pominville's pass into the left circle 53 seconds into the second period.
The Rangers responded 54 seconds later, when Vesey jammed a puck inside the right post off a pass from Buchnevich.
Skinner then scored a power-play goal with 3:04 left. Dahlin corralled a bouncing puck and fed Skinner at the top of the right circle, and he knuckled in a shot that fooled Georgiev.
Sabres forward Kyle Okposo fought Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo in the third period. Okposo took a punch to the face and did not return to the game. Okposo was hospitalized in March 2017 after a concussion and resulting reaction to medication.
NOTES: LW Connor Brickley made his Rangers debut a month after he was acquired in a trade that sent Cole Schneider to Nashville. Brickley played in place of rookie Filip Chytil, who was benched because of what coach David Quinn described as steadily declining play. ... Sabres D Zach Bogosian returned after missing two games with a lower-body injury. ... Quinn is pleased with Vesey's physical play of late, which is noticeably getting under the skin of opponents. "It's a funny sport. When you (tick) people off, they tend to come after you after the whistle," Quinn said. "So he's (ticking) people off with his play."
Rangers: At Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.
Sabres: Open three-game road trip at New Jersey on Sunday.