The Sabres were without Tyler Ennis and Ryan Miller, are one of the worst teams in the league, and don’t play defense, so this game was supposed to be a cakewalk. It wasn’t, and while the Sabres were lucky to get out of the first ten minutes scoreless, they outplayed the Rangers in the second, forcing a lot of penalties. The Rangers played fairly well, but had some sloppy stretches (five penalties) and it cost them. Jhonas Enroth had a great game too, which didn’t help. On to the goals:
Rangers 1, Sabres 0
The Rangers came in on a shorthanded rush, and it looks like Jordan Leopold –returning to the lineup tonight– just forgot where Derek Stepan was after the puck crossed the blue line. Stepan swung wide picture above, and Leopold just left him out there.
The problem for Leopold is that when Stepan cut back to the front of the net, Leopold didn’t stop him. I would say he didn’t see him, but Stepan cut right in front of him. Odd play for Leopold, who usually doesn’t have miscues like that.
Sabres 1, Rangers 1
The Sabres had the Rangers running around in their own zone for a little bit, and that’s when defensive miscues happen. A Christian Ehrhoff shot resulted in a long bounce off boards, and Marcus Foligno tucked the puck in the far side with a fancy between legs move to beat Ryan McDonagh to the puck. The defensive miscue here is that the Sabres outnumbered the Rangers –at even strength– at the goal crease. McDonagh was left to cover both Foligno and Nathan Gerbe. The weakside winger here (Gerbe) was Marian Gaborik’s man.
Sabres 2, Rangers 1
Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville are a dangerous combination, and this goal showed it. After the Sabres gained possession in their own zone, Vanek wound up in a foot race with Girardi down the far boards. Pominville put a pass perfectly behind Vanek, and off the boards, which eliminated the advantage Girardi created by cutting off the middle of the ice. Girardi still stayed with him, and still cut away half of his ice, but Vanek is a terrific shot and he won’t miss those. People will think Girardi was flat-footed, and he did appear to misstep when he was turning, but the pass from Pominville turned him around, which takes away speed.
Sabres 3, Rangers 1
The Rangers sustained pressure for what felt like the entire third period until this goal. The Sabres had a very innocent rush, but two miscues by the Rangers and the puck wound up in the back of their net. J.T. Miller was covering Jochen Hecht because Dan Girardi went out too far to cover Brian Flynn on the rush by the half boards. Flynn made a good pass to Andrej Sekera, and with Girardi still out of position, Miller let Hecht walk to the front of the net, where Ryan McDonagh was already tied up with Marcus Foligno. McDonagh can’t cover both, and Foligno bangs home the rebound. For those keeping score, this was the second time McDonagh was left to cover two Sabres in front of the net this game.
The Rangers owned a good portion of this game, but they took way too many penalties and it killed any offensive flow for them. It doesn’t help that Jhonas Enroth stood on his head and had his best game in two years either. This was a game where the Rangers needed to take two points from an inferior opponent, and they walked away with zero.