The New York Rangers were able to top the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 tonight with a huge shootout win. After going into the third period down by a goal, the Rangers capitalized on two huge power play opportunities to take the lead. Rick Nash was a huge factor behind that push as he assisted on the first goal, and sniped home his own on the second.
The Rangers came out with their typical fast start, and were all over the Sabres for the first 20 minutes of the game. While that momentum didn't necessarily show up on the scoreboard and the shot clock, the Rangers were carrying this game from the start.
Unfortunately, the Sabres were able to overcome the adversity, and struck first with a wicked wrist shot coming from the high slot. Carl Hagelin had trouble handling the puck on the faceoff, and the puck went right over to Stafford who ripped the shot. Henrik Lundqvist was also screened on the initial shot, and picked the puck up late coming through a bunch of bodies in front of the net. The Rangers finished out the second period strong, and rebounded with a few great scoring chances near the end of the period.
The Sabres got into some penalty trouble early in the third period as Anrej Sekera took a hooking minor, which was followed up by a disgusting hit from behind by Patrick Kaleta. Brad Richards was controlling the puck along the boards, and as he turned to protect the puck, Kaleta gave him a nasty cross check right across the numbers and Richards went face first into the boards. Richards stayed down for pretty long after the hit, and was favoring his wrist along with his back. Luckily, Richards was able to skate off under his own power, and eventually returned on a regular shift a few minutes later.
Katela wound up receiving a five minute major, along with a game misconduct, which sent the Rangers to a 5-on-3 a few minutes into the third period. It only took the Rangers seven seconds to convert as Rick Nash made a beautiful pass to Derek Stepan on the backdoor to tie up the game at one. A little over 40 seconds later, Marian Gaborik set up Rick Nash for his fifth goal of the season as he ripped home a power play goal from the just inside the faceoff circle.
The Rangers were often criticized for their toughness when respond to their opponents, but that doesn't always mean dropping the gloves and fighting. When Richards went down, the Rangers were fired up following that and they came away with two power play goals as a result. That's exactly how you rebound for your teammates, and those two goals were for Brad Richards.
Still on the five minute power play, Marc Staal pinched in for the puck as Steve Ott chipped the puck by him on the boards. It eventually lead to an odd man rush with Rick Nash being the lone player back in the defensive end. Ott made a few nifty moves before dishing it over to Nathan Gerbe who went top shelf on Henrik Lundqvist. While it was a perfectly set up play, Marc Staal made a terrible decision which lead to the goal.
The Rangers wound up getting into some penalty trouble of their own near the end of the third period, and early on in overtime. Rick Nash was whistled down for delay of game with 30 seconds left in the game, and Dan Girardi followed up with a boarding minor on Nathan Gerbe. The Rangers absolutely killed it on the penalty kill in overtime, and were able to get back to even strength. Shortly after the penalty kill ended, both Dan Girardi and Derek Stepan came within inches from ending the game, but Ryan Miller received a little help from his best friend.
We weren't able to grant a winner in overtime, so we headed to the shootout where the Rangers absolutely burned Ryan Miller. Rick Nash came up first and beat Miller on the back hand, and Ryan Callahan faked the wrist shot, and dangled around the sprawled out Miller to go up 2-0 in the shootout. Nathan Gerbe came down as the final shooter for the Buffalo Sabres , mishandled the puck, and was denied by Henrik Lundqvist to give the Rangers the win.
Rick Nash was well......Rick Nash in this game once again. After being somewhat invisible throughout the first 40 minutes, Nash absolutely took over this game in the third period. I know you've all probably heard this before, but Rick Nash is an absolutely game changer.
Although it wasn't a pretty win, the only thing that matters is that the Rangers came away with the two points. The Rangers will have Monday off before they head back onto home ice to faceoff against their rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers.