The New York Rangers were unable to get the job done this evening, as they fell to the Buffalo Sabres by a final score of 4-3. After the Rangers grabbed the lead heading into the third period, the Sabres rattled off two goals courtesy of Jack Eichal, and never looked back.
With the Rangers on the road, they looked to open up the game with a couple of strong shifts to set the tone. However, things took an interesting turn just 18 seconds into regulation, as the Sabres took the early 1-0 off of a fluke goal from center ice. Jake McCabe’s shot into the zone wound up deflecting off of Johan Larsson’s skate, which sent the puck wobbling towards Henrik Lundqvist.
Just as the puck reached the crease, it hit a rut in the ice, and landed in the back of the net after taking a strange bounce over Lundqvist’s shoulder. Obviously letting in an early goal is never the way to start the game, but letting in a goal like THAT just makes everything worse.
To add onto the early drama, Chris Kreider wound up leaving the game after his first shift, and stayed in the locker room presumably because of concussion protocol. Josh Georges leg caught Kreider in the head as he falling to the ice, but thankfully he was able to return later on in the period.
With a little under five minutes remaining in the first period, the Rangers went to work on the power play and converted just a minute in. Ryan McDonagh picked up his first goal of the season with Chris Kreider screening the goalie in front, and the Rangers knotted up the game at one.
Around the halfway mark of the second period, the Rangers power play went to work once again, and yet again, they converted. This time around it was Rick Nash, who slammed home a rebound generated by Adam Clendening’s shot, and slipped the puck between the legs of Anders Nilsson.
A little over a minute later, the Sabres clawed right back and evened up the game at two with a goal coming from Brian Gionta. Just as quickly as the Sabres scored, the Rangers added a goal of their own coming from Marc Staal. Just prior to the goal, Chris Kreider was able to make a solid play behind the goal line, and dished the puck over to Jesper Fast.
Fast was able to locate Marc Staal cutting in from the point, and fed him for the perfect one timer in the high slot. That gave the Rangers a one goal lead yet again, and they were able to keep that in their possession heading into the final period of play. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worst, as the Rangers wound up giving up two goals to surrender their one goal lead.
Jack Eichel completely took over the game in the third period by drawing an important penalty, and adding two goals, including the game winner. The Rangers had one last opportunity to tie the game with Henrik Lundqvist on the bench, but they weren’t able to create any high quality chances with the game on the line.
Overall, the Rangers didn’t have the greatest of games, but with a one goal lead heading into the third period, they need to close that one out. Henrik Lundqvist was also off from the start of this game after allowing the early fluke, and never seemed to rebound. He did make some key saves in this game, but he’ll probably want those two third period goals back.
Following tonight’s disappointing loss, the Rangers will be back in action on Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden against the Carolina Hurricanes.