Final

Series (Game 3 of 4)

Buffalo leads 3-1

Game 1: Friday, December 12th
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Sabres1
Game 2: Friday, January 30th
Sabres3Final
Rangers1
Game 3: Saturday, January 31st
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Sabres3
Game 4: Wednesday, March 31st
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Rangers3

Rangers 1

(19-23-4, 49 pts)

Sabres 3

(23-25-1, 52 pts)

7:00 PM ET, January 31, 2004

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 T
NYR 0 1 01
BUF 2 0 13

M. Biron (Sabres - G): Saves: 31, Save Pct.: .969

M. Afinogenov (Sabres - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

B. Leetch (Rangers - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

Sabres score two power-play goals in first

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- J.P. Dumont shook his head in delight, describing his opportunistic goal that helped spark the Buffalo Sabres' victory.

The New York Rangers were shaking their heads, too -- wondering what's happened to their high-priced offense.

Dumont's first-period power-play goal that banked in off New York defenseman Tom Poti's skate helped lift the Sabres to a 3-1 victory over the Rangers on Saturday night.

The goal was another example of the fortunate bounces the Sabres are getting in winning their season-high fourth straight game and fifth in their last six.

"Sometimes lucky goals are important and tonight it was," said Dumont, who was attempting to thread a pass through the crease from a bad angle. "It just gave us momentum, and after that everybody just played with confidence."

Maxim Afinogenov also scored a power-play goal and Miroslav Satan added an empty-netter, allowing the Sabres to complete a two-game sweep of the Rangers, after Friday night's 3-1 win in New York. Martin Biron stopped 31 shots to win his fifth straight start, a stretch in which he's allowed just seven goals.

Joel Bouchard scored for the slumping Rangers, who have lost three straight, seven of their last eight.

"Slowly but surely, we've dug ourselves a big hole," Rangers forward Bobby Holik said. "We could've put ourselves in a good position to win this game like they did."

And this is not what was expected from a New York team that recently acquired Jaromir Jagr, and his hefty contract, in a deal with Washington.

Jagr has managed just a goal and two assists -- all in a 5-2 win over Florida on Monday night -- in five games since joining the Rangers.

"I'm frustrated that I couldn't help the team and score goals," said Jagr, who had four shots on goal against the Sabres. "I love this team and I want us to succeed. ... We need to get some breaks."

Saturday's game turned in the opening 10 minutes when the Rangers managed just one shot during a two-man advantage over an 86-second span.

The Sabres, in comparison, capitalized on a two-minute, two-man advantage of their own when Dumont opened the scoring eight minutes into the game.

Afinogenov scored seven minutes later pouncing on a loose puck in the right circle and, with two Rangers defenders watching, snapping a shot inside the far post.

Bouchard capped a four-on-one rush to cut the Sabres lead to 2-1 seven minutes into the second period. But the Rangers were unable to pull even despite out-shooting the Sabres 32-29.

Jagr had New York's best chance with 12:35 remaining, set up for a one-timer by Brian Leetch's feed from behind the Buffalo net. But Biron came up big, sliding across to get a piece of Jagr's shot.

The Rangers finished 0-for-5 in power-play opportunities, and are now 0-for-16 in their last five games.

The Sabres have scored two power-play goals in each of their last three games.

Game notes


Rangers prospect Benoit Dusablon will have to wait for another time to make his NHL debut. Fearing C Jamie Lundmark (illness) would be too sick to play, the Rangers had Dusablon fly in from Norfolk, Va., where New York's Hartford affiliate was to play. Lundmark, however, was cleared to play and Dusablon, who had spent more than 12 hours traveling to Buffalo, watched the game from the press box.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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