Tonight was billed as the biggest game of the New York Rangers season as they were heading into Buffalo to take on the Sabres with a chance to gain ground on those in front of them and put some distance between themselves, the Sabres and the Hurricanes. The problem is no one on the Rangers displayed that sense of urgency for the majority of the hockey game. It was not until the third period that team actually had some urgency. The team did scramble late in trying to tie the game and salvage something from the night, but the overall effort was not nearly to the level necessary to be successful and so the team will leave Buffalo in eighth place only three points up Carolina for the final playoff spot.
The Rangers were given a gift in catching the Sabres without Ryan Miller and acted ungrateful as they made the majority of the night on backup goaltender Jhonas Enroth. Enroth would only have to make 23 saves to get his first career shutout. To Enroth’s credit he did make three or four beautiful saves in the third period to secure the 1-0 victory.
As for the action the Rangers were dominated for the first half of the first period, but would mount some pressure late in the period including a disallowed Artem Anisimov goal with just over two minutes left. On the play Ryan Callahan was skating through the crease and ended up sandwiched between Enroth and Sekera. While not a malicious play by Callahan it was the right call to disallow the goal because it did impact Enroth’s ability to get back and play the rebound from Anisimov.
During the second period the Rangers were woeful and the only goal of the game would happen. Brian Boyle broke down on a two-on-one, while shorthanded, with Ryan Callahan and elected to make the pass which was blocked and Buffalo came back the other way. The puck would eventually end up on the stick of Tim Connolly along the left wing board and he wound up for a blast that beat Lundqvist high at 5:28 of the second.
Adding injury to the insult of the effort of the first two periods was Henrik Lundqvist being down again, but this time not from being run into by the opposition. With just 24.4 seconds left in the second period Lundqvist appeared to take a shot just above his right knee while he was down in the butterfly. After shaking off the leg and being checked by Jim Ramsey he stayed in the game for the rest of the night.
The third period saw the Rangers finally show some urgency and create some scoring chances that tested Enroth, but they could not solve him tonight. The best chances were had by Stepan and various others by Marian Gaborik and it had the feel they would find a way to get one though it was not meant to be.
- Prospal-Stepan-Gaborik was the most dangerous line for the Rangers tonight
- Sean Avery had an impact in his minutes
- Wolski or Christensen need to hit the bench tomorrow and let Zuccarello get back in.