The New York Rangers scored twice on the power play and held the lead going into the third period. Unfortunately, Jack Eichel had other plans, scoring two goals of his own in the third period to give the Sabres the win at home.
In a feature here at Blue Line Station, we provide thoughts and analysis following every Rangers game. Make sure to stop by after games to see what you might have missed!
The Rangers came out against the Sabres with a top line of Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, and Jesper Fast. This wasn’t the first time head coach Alain Vigneault has opted to use the trustworthy Fast in his top-6.
The second shift of the game started in Buffalo’s zone. A seemingly harmless breakout up the left wing and a dump in by the Sabres ends up as a Johan Larsson goal as it gets past Henrik Lundqvist for the first score of the game. The home team took an early lead on one goal Lundqvist wanted back, Sabres 1-0.
The following five minutes of play consists of time being spent mostly in the neutral zone. The only Ranger skater noticeable to that point is Jimmy Vesey, mostly because the Sabres fans boo every time he touches the puck.
After getting shaken up driving hard to the net on the first shift of the game, Chris Kreider takes the ice again for the Rangers nearly seven minutes in.
The Rangers began to find their legs mid way through the first period. They continued to gain chances and offensive zone time after the 10 minute mark. With a little under 5 minutes to play New York got their first power play opportunity on Marcus Foligno.
The Rangers found success on the power play, effectively moving the puck and getting shots through from the point. A minute in Ryan McDonagh was able to put a shot past Buffalo goaltender Anders Nilsson with the help of a Chris Kreider screen. Rangers tie the game 1-1.
The final minute of play in the first period the Sabres failed to convert on several good looks in front of the Rangers net. Shots are 11-8 in favor of the New York Rangers, but the score is tied 1-1.
The first several minutes of play in the second period were spent inside the Rangers zone. New York continued to struggle with possession in the beginning of periods.
After getting pinned in their end the Rangers were forced to clear the puck for multiple icings. With Brady Skjei noticeably tired, Alain Vigneault called a timeout a little under five minutes into the second period.
After a scoring opportunity for Rick Nash was broken up, the Sabres took their second penalty of the game. Cody Franson is called for cross checking.
For the second time in two tries the Rangers applied pressure from their defense. A shot from Adam Clendening found its way through to Nilsson, where Rick Nash is planted to bury the rebound for his 11th of the season. Rangers lead 2-1.
.@Clenny5, a native of Niagara Falls, got his first career assist/point vs Buffalo while playing his third career game against the Sabres.
Play clearly began to pick up for both sides. The Rangers immediately generated opportunities following their goal and the Sabres take their turn putting shots on net.
A flurry of quick shots by the Sabres turned into a series of scoring opportunities. Eventually Marcus Foligno centered a pass from behind the net, Sabres captain Brian Gionta is there to tie the game, 2-2.
Shortly after, with the Rangers working the boards to the right of the Buffalo goal, Jesper Fast came away with the puck and finds Marc Staal in front. Rangers take the lead again 3-2.
The period ends in a lull. The Buffalo Sabres led 22-20 in shots, but the Rangers led 3-2 on the scoreboard.
About three minutes into the third period the Sabres gained the zone and Brandon Pirri took a hooking penalty, giving the Sabres their first power play of the game. The Rangers kill it off easily.
With the Rangers shelling early in the third period the Sabres began to force turnovers in the offensive zone. New York is forced to take a few icings while Henrik Lundqvist continually made important saves.
After Chris Kreider was met at the blue line by Cody Franson and forced onto his back, both teams delivering big hits in each other’s zones.
Eventually, Adam Clendening takes a holding penalty and the Sabres got their second power play of the period. Jack Eichel made the Rangers pay beating Henrik Lundqvist on the short side to tie the game at 3.
Just minutes later, Evander Kane enters the zone with speed and send a puck flying over the Rangers net. Buffalo recovered and a Jack Eichel centering pass attempt hit off of Mats Zuccarello’s skate past Lundqvist. Buffalo takes the lead 4-3.
The Rangers failed to generate any sustained pressure after pulling Henrik Lundqvist with a minute left to play.
Final score: Buffalo Sabres 4, New York Rangers 3.
This is a game the Rangers could have easily won had they not taken the foot of the accelerator in the third period. Too many times in the last month has the game plan abandoned offense as the best defense.
The shot totals were close in this one, but it is easy to see the Rangers are not generating nearly as many chances as they were the first month. Gone too seem to be the Rangers breakaway opportunities.
After scoring the game winning goal on Tuesday against Carolina on the power play, the Rangers followed up with another strong game on special teams. The team seems to be generating more shots from the point than earlier in the season.
Henrik Lundqvist looked extremely uncomfortable in this game throughout. He seemed out of position and had a hard time handling the puck. Yet, for long stretches of the game he kept the Rangers in it when they refused to push.
Adam Clendening’s return to the lineup saw him register an assist on the power play, where most expect him to be of the most help to this team. Unfortunately, he took an untimely penalty and did not do much to stand out. He should get more than one game to get comfortable.
One thing that may have gone unnoticed, Matthew Puempel did not see a shift after blocking a shot in the second period.