Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - The New York Rangers seemed to have finally found their scoring touch at a most opportune time.
Behind Brad Richards' first career hat trick, the Rangers recorded their highest scoring output of the season in an 8-4 verdict over the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center.
Richards, Carl Hagelin and Ryane Clowe all potted goals in the final 78 seconds of the first period to spur New York to its second lopsided victory in as many nights. Richards also lit the lamp early in the second as part of a five-goal outburst over a span of 2:58, the quickest for that amount in franchise history.
It came just one night after New York matched a then-season best for goals in a 6-1 home rout of Florida.
Clowe and Rick Nash each finished with a goal and an assist in the critical win, which placed the Rangers two points in front of idle Winnipeg for the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference and one behind the resting Islanders for seventh place. Anton Stralman and Ryan Callahan also scored to support a 24-save effort from Henrik Lundqvist.
Buffalo had made a belated push for a postseason berth with a 6-2-0 stretch entering the contest, but was officially eliminated from playoff contention after having a three-game win streak halted.
Cody Hodgson, Nathan Gerbe, Drew Stafford and Mark Pysyk all tallied for the Sabres, but goaltender Ryan Miller was lifted 1:13 into the second period after permitting four goals on 14 shots
Jhonas Enroth didn't fare any better, allowing four goals on 15 chances after taking over.