The New York Rangers were able to get back into the win column tonight as they picked up a big 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Henrik Lundqvist looked absolutely amazing, and made a handful of saves late in the game to preserve the lead. Ryan McDonagh also picked up two assists in this game, as he continues to tear it up in the offensive zone.
This game was a bit of a snooze-fest for a majority of the first period, but the Rangers would eventually break through later on in the period. Derek Stepan made a great read off of a pass from Ryan McDonagh, and chipped the puck to the middle of the ice. Rick Nash read the play almost immediately, and broke in all alone on Ryan Miller. Nash had a tremendous amount of patience, waited out Miller, and tucked the puck short side to give the Rangers their first lead of the game.
The second period really didn't generate all that much, but the Rangers were able to control a bit of play in the closing minutes. One thing the Rangers did a really great job of tonight was keeping the Sabres honest in the defensive end, and made some great plays during the times that they did commit a turnover. Also big ups to their penalty kill, as they completely shutdown a disorganized Sabres team while shorthanded, and were getting in every shooting lane when they had the opportunity to.
Heading into the third period, you could sense that the next goal was going to either make or break this game for the Rangers. You had a Sabres team who has been a little dry offensively, and they were still hanging around in a 1-0 game. The Rangers received their first opportunity to grab a hold of this game, as Cody Hodgson was whistled down for tripping just seven minutes into the third period. Henrik Lundqvist wound up making an unbelievable save just a few seconds prior, which was clearly the turning point of this game.
The Rangers had a ton of great looks on the power play tonight, and they were finally able to break through about a minute into their second power play. Derick Brassard deserves a ton of credit for this goal, as he came out of the corner, faked a shot, and dished the puck off to a wide open Brad Richards. The little head fake Brassard made just prior to his pass gave Richards a wide open net to shoot at, and he buried it from the goal line.
Richards hit a little dry spell at the end of last month, but has since put together a five game point streak where he has two goals and four assists. Mats Zuccarello wound up giving the Rangers a 3-0 lead a few minutes later as he snapped the puck under Miller's glove hand off of a great pass from Brad Richards yet again.
Within the final minutes of regulation, the Sabres really started to ramp up the pressure in the offensive zone, and really starting testing the Rangers. Luckily for them, Henrik Lundqvist was on top of his game, and was able to turn away all but one shot tonight. Tyler Ennis wound up finding the back of the net with a little over two minutes remaining, as his beat Lundqvist over the shoulder on the short side. It was a little disappointing to see Lundqvist's shutout bid spoiled, but at the end of the day a win is still a win.
The Rangers will travel back to New York later tonight as they set out to begin their nine game home stand at Madison Square Garden. Next up on the docket for the Rangers will be their crosstown rivals, the New Jersey Devils.