Brassard shines as Rangers whip Sabres


Derick Brassard ended a month of scoring woes with the best night by a New York Rangers’ player in five years.

Brassard scored two goals, set up crucial third-period tallies by J.T. Miller and Mats Zuccarello and finished with a career-best five points while the Rangers blew a two-goal lead and came back to beat Buffalo 6-3 Monday night for their eighth straight win over the Sabres.

“We knew it was only a matter of time,” Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said of Brassard, who has battled a flu bug. “You get a tough illness like that, it’s tough to get your body back to feeling the way you want to feel as a hockey player. It’s great to see him break through before the break.”

Brassard is the first Ranger to tally five points in a game since Ryan Callahan on Mar. 6, 2011 vs. Philadelphia (four goals, one assist). He also is the first to have four points in one period since Sean Avery on Mar. 17, 2007 vs. Boston.

“For me, I have been struggling the last two weeks to find some offense and I hope this will give me some confidence,” said Brassard, who had two goals and an assist in his last 11 games.

Miller said playing with Brassard has been great.

“If you asked him he probably wished over the last couple of games he could have brought more production but at the same time, he plays the same way every game,” Miller said. “He still brings it and this was a great example of what kind of threat he is with and without the puck.”

Miller snapped a tie, Zuccarello added a power-play goal and Brassard scored into an empty net after the Sabres made it 3-3 to allow the Rangers to head into the NHL All-Star break with three wins in four games.

Rookie defenseman Dylan McIlrath and Viktor Stalberg also scored for New York.

Zemgus Girgensons scored twice in a 1:13 span early in the third period to rally Buffalo from a 3-1 deficit. It was his first game after missing four with an upper-body injury.

Brian Gionta also scored for the Sabres, who lost their third straight game overall. Stars 2, Flames 1

In Dallas, Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza scored 80 seconds apart early in the second period and the Stars beat Calgary.

It was only the third win in 11 games this month for Dallas, which closed out a 3-6-2 stretch heading into the All-Star break after leading the Western Conference for much of the season. Blue Jackets 5, Canadiens 2

In Columbus, Cam Atkinson had his third-career hat trick and Brandon Saad scored twice to help the Blue Jackets beat struggling Montreal to end a three-game losing streak.

Atkinson’s linemates Brandon Dubinsky and Boone Jenner each had three assists and rookie Joonas Korpisalo turned aside 32 shots. Bruins 3, Flyers 2

In Philadelphia, Brett Connolly redirected Zdeno Chara’s shot from the point with 1:54 left, lifting Boston over the Flyers.

Connolly tipped the wobbly shot and one-hopped the puck past Michel Neuvirth for his seventh goal of the season. Red Wings 4, Islanders 2

In New York, Justin Abdelkader and Danny DeKeyser scored 1:11 apart in the second period to lead Detroit over the Islanders.

Brad Richards scored in the first and Petr Mrazek stopped 27 shots for the Red Wings. Coyotes 2, Wild 1 (SO)

In St. Paul, Minnesota, Anthony Duclair had the only goal in the shootout, rookie Louis Domingue made 34 saves and Arizona came back to beat the Wild.

Domingue stopped all three shooters he faced in the shootout to help Arizona win its second straight. Antoine Vermette tied it with 1:13 left in regulation on a short-handed goal.