BUFFALO -- New York Rangers goalie Mackenzie Skapski will have a lot of good memories when it comes to playing in Buffalo.
Skapski made 20 saves and Keith Yandle scored 7:31 into the third period to give the Rangers a 2-0 win against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on Saturday.
"It all started with the first one and now tonight, I don't think you could script it any better," Skapski said. "Our defense and our forwards were excellent as always. We have a very underrated offensive-defensive team. That's what makes us the best team in the NHL right now."
Skapski earned his first NHL shutout in his second start. He got his first victory against the Sabres in his NHL debut when he made 24 saves in a 3-1 win on Feb. 20.
"I didn't even digest the win yet, let alone the shutout," Skapski said. "Come summertime when hockey season's done and there’s less of a process going on, I'll start to realize what happened. I'm fortunate with the opportunities they had."
Skapski made two big saves early on that kept the game scoreless. The 20-year-old rookie stopped Tyler Ennis on a breakaway 6:15 into the first period and made a sprawling glove save on Sabres captain Brian Gionta during a 2-on-1 with Philip Varone against Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi 1:02 into the second period.
"Early on in the game, they get a breakaway and he made a big save," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "A couple big glove saves kept us right there. He gave us a chance to win the hockey game. It's good for him; it's a good milestone for a goalie. It's great he can get it early."
Skapski has won his two starts this season, each against the Sabres, and has a 119:46 shutout streak. He was recalled from Hartford in the American Hockey League on Feb. 4 to back up Cam Talbot when starting goalie Henrik Lundqvist sustained a vascular injury.
Skapski is the first Rangers goalie to have a shutout in one of his first two NHL starts since Marcel Paille in November 1957. It is the first time in Rangers history three goalies have a shutout in one season; Lundqvist and Talbot each has five.
"Both [Skapski] and Cam during the absence of [Lundqvist] have played well for us," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "They’re doing what goaltenders are supposed to go, give your team a chance to win."
The Rangers (43-17-7) won their fourth consecutive game to remain atop the Metropolitan Division and have won seven consecutive games against the Sabres. The Rangers have earned a point in 16 of the past 17 games going 13-1-3 during that time.
"We knew going in, and we talked about it prior to the game, there are no easy games in this league and we didn't expect one tonight," Vigneault said. "Their goaltender made some real big saves in the second period to keep them in, our goaltender had a couple big saves and [I] thought he did a real good job for us and we found a way in the third period to score a couple goals."
Yandle gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with his fifth goal of the season and first since he was acquired in a trade from the Arizona Coyotes on March 1. Yandle received a pass from Martin St. Louis and took a wrist shot from high in the attacking zone that beat Sabres goalie Anders Lindback through a screen. It was Yandle’s first goal since Dec. 23.
"I thought for a second that I didn't know if got tipped so maybe I shouldn't celebrate," Yandle said. "I don't really remember too much."
St. Louis scored his 20th of the season, an empty-net goal with 32.7 seconds remaining.
"[We’re] getting ready for playoffs," Yandle said. "We've got to play those tight games and find ways to win and it doesn't matter if it’s early in the game or late."
The Rangers had a 72-26 advantage in shot attempts against the Sabres.
"I’m not big moral victories; we still lost the game," Sabres defenseman Mike Weber said. "But I thought we played almost as [well] as we could."
The Sabres (19-43-6) have lost six consecutive games.
"I think it was a competitive game, I think we played pretty well," Ennis said. "I think [Lindback] played a great game in net, made some great saves. The penalty kill was good. We played solid tonight. I think if our power play could’ve gotten one, it would’ve been a different story."
Lindback made 31 saves in his fifth start for the Sabres since he was acquired in a trade from the Dallas Stars on Feb. 11.
"You can see the progression of him getting better and better and better, his confidence really coming," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.
Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian missed the game with a lower-body injury. He has averaged 26:44 of ice time since he was acquired in a trade from the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 11.
"He tweaked just a little something this morning, lower body," Nolan said. "We thought maybe one game would be a lot worse than losing him for four or five. Hopefully, he'll be back next game."