Following Tuesday’s loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Rangers responded this evening with a big bounce back win against the Buffalo Sabres. Henrik Lundqvist was simply amazing tonight, and returned to full form after a shaky performance coming out of the All-Star break. It wasn’t just the fact that Lundqvist picked up the win, but rather how he responded and how well he played to keep the Rangers in this game right from the start.
The Rangers as a whole were much better than they were on Tuesday, and despite Lundqvist’s strong play, they were still generating quality scoring chances. Robin Lehner also deserves a ton of credit in this game, as he was equal to the task like Lundqvist, and robbed the Rangers on a few different occasions.
After coming up empty throughout 20 minutes, the Rangers finally had a chance to break the ice with a power play late in the second period. It took the Rangers a little over 30 seconds to create their opportunity, and they finally broke the scoreless tie at the 17:50 mark. Ryan McDonagh’s one-time blast wound up catching a piece of Mats Zuccarello’s stick in the high slot, and he deflected it past Lehner.
Chris Kreider also contributed on the goal by creating a monstrous screen in front by jumping across the crease and taking away the goaltenders vision. Lehner never stood a chance and the Rangers carried a 1-0 lead into the third period, looking to build on their momentum. Unfortunately, the Sabres were the ones to respond in the third period, and found the game tying goal with under six minutes remaining in regulation.
Cody Franson picked up the goal after a loose puck deflected into the high slot, and he ripped a quick shot past Lundqvist to make it a 1-1 game. As deflating as the goal against was, the Rangers quickly rallied the troops for overtime and attacked the Sabres right from the puck drop. Michael Grabner’s speed eventually came into play early in overtime as he drew a penalty after blowing past Ryan O’Reilly on the outside.
That set the stage for the Rangers, who had already registered an overtime goal tonight, and they delivered. Following a big time save by Lundqvist, the Rangers regrouped behind the net, where Mika Zibanejad started the game-winning rush up the ice. As soon as he entered the zone, Zibanejad dropped the puck to Chris Kreider, who then immediately dished the puck off to J.T. Miller.
After selling Lehner on the shot, Miller passed the puck right back to Kreider, who was in a shooting lane, and Kreider sealed the deal. This was not only a huge bounce back win for the Rangers as a whole, but for Henrik Lundqvist, who played lights out tonight and picked up a huge confidence boosting victory.
Following tonight’s win, the Rangers will return to action this following Sunday when they host the Calgary Flames at Madison Square Garden.