Rick Nash came up big when the New York Rangers needed him the most.
Nash had a goal and assist and also scored in the shootout to lead the New York Rangers to a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night.
Ryan Callahan also scored for New York in the shootout. Derek Stepan added a goal, and Henrik Lundqvist made 28 saves. New York has won two in a row.
”It’s a big win,” Nash said. ”I’m proud of the guys. They stuck with it and we got a big win.”
Drew Stafford and Nathan Gerbe scored for Buffalo. Ryan Miller stopped 26 of 28 shots. The Sabres’ season-high three-game winning streak ended.
”We need to come through with points,” Miller said.
Buffalo is 12th in the Eastern Conference with 20 points in 23 games. The Sabres had a two-man advantage in overtime, but Lundqvist kept the game tied.
”We gave ourselves a chance to win the game. It comes down to a power play in overtime. I think we can be a little bit better on that.”
New York received a scare 3:28 into the third when Brad Richards was shoved from behind into the half boards by Sabres right wing Patrick Kaleta. Kaleta was assessed a five-minute major for checking from behind and was given a game misconduct.
Richards was on the ice for nearly two minutes before being helped to the bench. He returned to the game.
”No need for it,” Richards said of the hit. ”That’s not a hit that was ever in the game, I don’t think. That’s a little different than (a) headshot. That’s just stupidity.
”It’s not hockey. I don’t know what game he plays, actually. He doesn’t play hockey to begin with. It’s the same guy all the time.”
Kaleta was not available for comment after the game.
”It was hard to tell how extreme it was. I’ll have to take a look at it. We have to be smarter in that situation,” Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston said. ”Pat is a heart and soul guy. He’s a competitor. He lays it on the line every game so he’s a guy, I’m sure, (that) is disappointed about it.”
Nash and Callahan scored in the shootout, while Jason Pominville and Tyler Ennis missed for Buffalo.
It was Buffalo’s third straight game that ended in a shootout. The Sabres had won the previous two.
Stepan’s power-play goal seven seconds after the penalty tied the game at 1-1.
Stepan one-timed a diagonal Nash pass over Miller for his second power-play goal of the season. The New York center screamed after the puck hit the back of the net.
”When you get a chance, 5-on-3, I think anytime you’ve got to score goals,” Stepan said. ”It’s a big-time goal. Anytime you get a 5-on-3, you’ve got to make it count. (Richards) steps in there and takes a pretty big hit. You want to make sure you pop one in there.
”(Richards is) as tough as nails.”
Forty-three seconds later, on the same power play, Nash gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead with his fifth of the season.
That’s great,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. ”I’m glad we made them pay.”
Nathan Gerbe tied it at 2-2 at 8:19 of the third period on a nice pass from Steve Ott.
”(Earning a point) was certainly good,” Rolston said. ”With guys being able to bounce back and get that tie in the third was another great sign for us.”
Stafford’s goal 8:04 into the second period opened the scoring. Rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko beat Richards on an offensive zone faceoff, winning the puck back to Stafford. The Buffalo right wing’s snap shot appeared to deflect off a stick and fluttered past Lundqvist.
New York finished 2 for 4 on the man advantage and killed all five Buffalo power plays.
”(Special teams) won the game,” Lundqvist said. ”The power play stepped up even though we gave up one (score). The way we killed their power play down the stretch was huge.”
NOTES: Buffalo left wing Thomas Vanek missed the game with an undisclosed injury. Vanek also missed the Sabres’ 4-3 shootout win over the Devils on Saturday. Vanek is tied for third in the league with 27 points. … Defenseman T.J. Brennan and left wing John Scott were healthy scratches for the Sabres. New York scratched defenseman Matt Gilroy and right wing Arron Asham.