The first period went scoreless, as both Jhonas Enroth and Henrik Lundqvist were solid in net for their respective teams, with Lundqvist making two key saves for the Rangers midway through the opening period.
The first goal of the game was scored early in the second period while the Sabres were on the power play. However, it was the Rangers that got on the board first with a shorthanded goal by Derek Stepan. Stepan intercepted a Sabres pass at his own blue line and passed it to the left wing to Ryan Callahan. Callahan then carried the puck deep into the offensive zone and backhanded a pass to Stepan, who one-timed a shot from the slot that beat Enroth to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead 4:17 into the middle frame. It was the fifth shorthanded goal the Sabres have given up this season, the most in the entire NHL.
The Sabres didn’t waste much time getting the equalizer though, as Marcus Foligno tied the game a mere 1:18 later with his second goal of the season. Christian Ehrhoff fired a slap shot from the blue line that went wide, but bounced off the end boards behind the net to Marcus Foligno, who from just to the right of the Rangers’ net stickhandled the puck through his legs and tapped it into the net.
Thomas Vanek later gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead with 7:20 remaining in the second period with his 14th goal of the season. Andrej Sekera won a puck battle behind the Sabres net and tapped it to Cody Hodgson. Hodgson then passed it up the right wing to Jason Pominville just behind the Sabres own blue line, who then fired a cross ice pass up the ice to Vanek. Vanek then skated into the offensive zone around Rangers defenseman Daniel Girardi, went in on net and snapped a shot over the blocker of Henrik Lundqvist.
The Sabres eventually took a 3-1 lead with Marcus Foligno’s second goal of the game 11:48 into the third period. Andrej Sekera took a wrist shot from the right point that Lundqvist stopped, but the rebound landed to the right of the net to Foligno, who tapped it by Lundqvist to give the Sabres a two goal lead.
Despite being outshot 18-3 in the third period, the Sabres held on for a 3-1 victory, securing backup goalie Jhonas Enroth’s first win since Nov. 26, 2011 against the Washington Capitals. He had been 0-10-3 since then.
Enroth, who stopped 32 of 33 shots in the game, is now 1-2-0 on the season with a 3.26 Goals Against Average and a .896 Save percentage. Usual starter Ryan Miller was the designated backup, sitting out the game with a sinus infection.
With the win, the Sabres are now 10-14-3 on the season. With 21 games left, the Sabres sit in 13th place in the Eastern Conference Standings with 23 points, five behind the New York Rangers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the east.
The Sabres next game is Saturday, March 16 at home against the Ottawa Senators at 3 p.m.