Alright, honestly, who saw this coming when they dropped the puck for this game? If you did, well, you might as well go buy a lottery ticket right now. The New York Rangers routed the Buffalo Sabres this evening by a score of 8-4, which effectively eliminated both the Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers from playoff contention.
I honestly missed the first half of the game tonight, so I can't really breakdown much down on how the Rangers started off, but from what I've heard they had some pretty good puck luck. Sometimes that's all you need, and the Rangers got every single bounce that they could possibly get. Carl Hagelin started off the offensive onslaught with just under two minutes remaining int he first period, as he drove in 1-on-2, and forced the puck to the middle of the ice on a wrap around. The puck wound up banking off of Adam Pardy's skate, and slipped under Ryan Miller's pad to give the Rangers the 1-0 lead.
Brad Richards would convert shortly thereafter off of another strange bounce in front of Ryan Miller, to give the Rangers the 2-0 lead. Richard's initially held up looking for the pass in front to Zuccarello but just tossed it on net, and it wound up deflecting off of Christian Ehrhoff's skate, and slipped through the five hole once again. As if Ryan Miller wasn't hearing it from his home town fans already, he set himself up for failure just a few seconds after Richard's game the Rangers a 2-0 lead. Ryane Clowe dumped the puck in on net in an attempt to make a change. However, Miller hesitated with the puck and wound up fanning on a clearing attempt. That left the puck sitting right at the hash marks, and Clowe was right there to jam it home for the 3-0 lead.
It didn't stop there, as carrying over to the second period, both Anton Stralman and Brad Richards add on another goal a piece which made it 5-0 Rangers. Rick Nash would make it 6-0 just six minutes later, as he scored from his patented spot at the right faceoff dot. It was a nice little give and go between Derek Stepan and Nash, and Nash finished it off with a beautifully placed shot.
The Sabres would finally get on the board, and added two consecutive goals that were six seconds apart to cut the Rangers lead to 6-2. Cody Hodgson scored the first goal for the Sabres on the power play as he redirected home a Christian Ehrhoff bomb from the point. Off of the ensuing faceoff, Nathan Geber would convert off of a bad turnover by Michael Del Zotto, and snapped a high shot over the shoulder of Henrik Lundqvist. While the Rangers still had a four goal cushion, panic started to set in for a bit as the Rangers began to sit back on their heels a little bit.
That pressure was soon relieved as Ryan Callahan scored on a great individual effort at the blue line, which lead to a breakaway. Callahan was fighting off both Mike Weber, and Chad Ruhwedel on the play, and snapped a quick shot over the glove of Jhonas Enroth to make it 7-2 Rangers.
Drew Stafford and Mark Pysyk scored the two remaining goals for the Sabres, and Brad Richards capped off the game with his first career hat trick which brought the final score to 8-4. With the win, the Rangers now have sole possession of the eighth and final playoff spot, and pulled two points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets. This win also has the Rangers sitting just three points back from the 5th overall seed with four games remaining on their schedule. Sunday's game against the New Jersey Devils will be yet another big game, as the Rangers have a chance to eliminate them from playoff contention as well.