NHL Game Summary - Buffalo at NY Rangers
(Wednesday, March 31st)
Final Score: Buffalo 4, NY Rangers 3
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Jochen Hecht scored a pair of goals and set up two others, as the Buffalo Sabres remained in the playoff hunt and spoiled what may have been the last game of Mark Messier's career with a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Messier, a sure-fire Hall of Famer, has indicated that he may retire at the end of the season. The Rangers, who concluded their home slate, will finish a dismal campaign at Washington on Saturday. Messier, though, may not play in that contest.
"I don't really have much to say, except good luck to all you guys," Messier said to his teammates at his locker after the game.
The six-time Stanley Cup champion and two-time Hart Trophy winner as league MVP scored a goal, the 18th of his 25th and perhaps final season. The 43-year- old Messier hasn't said for certain if he will call it a career, but the fans at Madison Square Garden showered him with applause during his final few shifts and gave him a standing ovation when he was named the game's first star.
"If it is time to retire, I can feel good about the 25 years I've spent in the league," Messier said after the game. "I'm leaning more toward not playing."
Messier did say that he won't rule out a return, adding that he would probably wait to make a decision once the emotion of a difficult season wears off.
The Rangers will not make the playoffs for the seventh straight year.
Daniel Briere and Dmitri Kalinin also scored for the Sabres, who have won two straight and are 5-0-1 in their last six. Buffalo needed the victory to remain alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race, as the eighth-place New York Islanders also won on Wednesday and own a three-point lead over the Sabres with two games remaining.
"We're not completely out of it," Briere said. "We're going to need help now."
Martin Biron made 37 saves in the triumph. Mike Dunham turned aside 35 shots in defeat.
Josh Green and Thomas Pock also scored for New York, which has lost two in a row and is just 1-7-0-3 in its last 11. The Rangers finished their home schedule just 13-21-3-4.
Hecht scored twice in a span of just 21 seconds to give the Sabres a 3-1 lead.
An outstanding individual effort snapped a 1-1 tie at the 3:27 mark of the second period. Hecht raced into the New York zone along the right wing and took a shot from the circle that Dunham stopped. While falling into the netminder, Hecht knocked another shot off the post but was able to sweep the puck home with his third attempt.
A Ranger turnover on the next shift led to Hecht's second goal of the game and 15th of the season. Chris Drury forced the turnover and got the puck to Mike Grier at the point. Grier spotted Hecht behind the Ranger defense and Hecht beat Dunham from in front of the crease.
The Rangers got one back with 9:00 left in the second when Pock scored his second of the season on a one-timer from the low left circle.
Buffalo went back in front by two at the 2:56 mark of the third on Kalinin's 10th goal. He skated into the Ranger zone along the left wing, cut into the slot and snapped a high wrister past Dunham on the glove side.
New York again made it a one-goal game with 10:48 left, as Green backhanded a shot past Biron on the rebound of a Chris McAllister point shot.
The Rangers were given a power play with 3:54 remaining, but could not convert and also failed to score the equalizer with an extra attacker in the final minute.
The Sabres opened the scoring just 3:59 into the game when Briere flipped a shot home from the right side of the crease off a pass from behind the net by Hecht.
Messier tied it in the final minute of the opening period, scoring on a backhander from the left side of the crease.
Drury and Grier each had two assists for Buffalo...The Sabres won the final three games of the season series after losing the opener and are 5-2-0 in the last seven matchups with the Rangers...New York's Jaromir Jagr left the game with a strained hip flexor.
03/31 23:38:20 ET