This one feels good. What started out to be a pretty slow game through the first two periods ended with a wild sprint to the finish, where the Rangers would defeat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in OT.
Let’s be clear. The Rangers had to win this game. Not just because they needed the two points, but because they had to defy the refs, who were atrocious tonight, and they had to make the Sabres pay for their cheap, dirty hits. They accomplished this and all should be happy.
On to the goals…
Sabres 1 Rangers 0 (Drew Stafford at 8:04 in the 2nd)
This was an easy one to breakdown. I got it after one glance. I think Joe finally broke it down a period later. Par for the course. Just kidding Joe, we love you.
Richie won the face-off, but failed to tie-up Grigorenko off the draw. Grigs got around Richie to the loose puck and back-passed to Drew Stafford. Stafford was uncovered in the high slot, thanks to Hecht’s trip on Hagelin off the draw, as seen above. Stafford just ripped one passed Lundqvist. Missed call on the refs part.
Richards Gets Cross-Checked By Patrick Kaleta
Other than that one goal, the game was pretty even up until a suspendable hit was thrown by Patrick Kaleta on Brad Richards early in the third. For those of you who missed it, Kaleta crossed-check Richie several feet from the boards, which caused him to violently crash head first into the boards.
Kaleta was appropriately given a misconduct. Part of the new rules around boarding is that the NHL can now suspend you for those types of plays. With that said, the league has been very erratic on this. Also, Richie’s brains didn’t empty out onto the ice, so my guess is Kaleta escapes a suspension. However, he absolutely should be.
Sabres 1 Rangers 1 (Derek Stepan at 3:35 in the 3rd)
With Richards off to the locker room with Ramer, the Rangers finally ignited their power play. The first one came from some terrific puck movement around their umbrella setup. MDZ fed Gabby, who fed Nash, who found Stepan wide open on the far-side post for the put home. This was just a crucial goal to score after that nasty hit. Kudos to the boys for getting the job done.
Side note- Sorry, no photo for this one. Came out too blurry.
Sabres 1 Rangers 2 (Rick Nash at 4:18 in the 3rd)
On the same power play, the Sabres collapsed around the slot leaving our pointmen free to move the puck around – big mistake on Buffalo’s part. MDZ was allotted time and space on the point. He fed Gabby, who fed Nash cross-ice, who just shredded one past Miller from the circle. Me thinks I like Gabby on the left side.
Sabres 2 Rangers 2 (Nathan Gerbe at 8:19 in the 3rd)
Stepan missed a hard around in the offensive zone on the power play. McDonagh pinched to keep it in, but Gerbe poked checked him and then tapped the puck past MDZ, who came in for support…and off Buffalo went.
Nash was back to defend a 2-on-1 and slid down to defend it, taking himself out of the play. McD was able to backcheck and went to defend Ott, who wisely crossed to Gerbe for the put home. I’m sure a lot of tweeners would like to throw a “TV brick” at almost everyone on the ice for this goal. It’s a power play and the boys were playing aggressive, perhaps too aggressive. But hey, they had an opportunity to open the game up and they just missed…three times.
Nash scored on a gorgeous backhander. Pominville was stopped by The King. Ryan Callahan scored on a wonderful fake with a forehand finish. Hank stopped Ennis for the win. Big win tonight and some big saves by Lundqvist. He’s back.
Any takers on how many games Kaleta gets?