After narrowly escaping Montreal with two points, the Rangers headed to Buffalo for a matchup against the Sabres. Tyler Motte drew back into the lineup, bringing the Rangers ever-closer to fully operational—Ryan Lindgren remains the only projected started still out. Even so, the Rangers needed some lucky bounces, an overtime, and a fantastic performance by Igor Shesterkin to squeak out a 2-1 victory.
Neither team managed to score a goal in the first, though both had their chances. Shesterkin stood up the chances he faced. Buffalo goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen did what he had to as well, but the Rangers missed the net on their best chances.
The Sabres took control in the early part of the second, and they kept control in the middle part and the end part, too. They scored only one goal, however, while allowing one of their own.
Tage Thompson muscled the puck low before tossing it back to Ilya Lyubushkin, whose cross ice-pass set up Jeff Skinner for a one-timer from the right circle. The goal was Skinner’s 29th of the year.
7️⃣2️⃣, 4️⃣6️⃣, and 5️⃣3️⃣ making the magic happen #LetsGoBuffalo pic.twitter.com/UFC5pHG6mZ— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) March 11, 2023
The Rangers only had one shot on goal until 8:32, but they scored on their second one, even though if it was an accident. Patrick Kane tried attempted a backhand pass to a driving K’Andre Miller, but instead the puck deflected off Owen Powers’ skate and past Luukkonen. Jacob Trouba had the secondary assist, giving him points in four straight.
And just like that: Kaner's second as a #NYR. pic.twitter.com/jEhnM03e0U— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 11, 2023
The Sabres nearly regained the lead shortly after when Tyson Jost picked off a long pass by a wandering Shesterkin, but Buffalo was called offside, as a Sabre crossed the blueline ahead of the play on his way back to the bench. It was nearly a costly mistake, but he made up for it with this pair of saves against Skinner and Rasmus Dahlin.
I-GOR pic.twitter.com/x6pfgTp32C— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 11, 2023
The Rangers have lady luck to thank for escaping the second period tied; in the early third, they had Shesterkin. He made another handful of key saves in the first few minutes, as the ice remained tilted in Buffalo’s favor. So tilted, in fact, that Gallant dusted off the ol’ line blender and gave the top nine a good puree, leaving few chunks:
It didn’t really help them get much going.
Both teams have dangerous powerplays that got to work in the third, but neither scored nor even looked that threatening. That especially disappointing for the Rangers, given that the Sabres’ PK is among the league’s worst.
The Sabres, not content to coast to overtime, made one last push, but Igor was immoveable.
IGOR pic.twitter.com/Nj8mnwN7UJ— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 12, 2023
And so began the overtime. This time the Rangers came out and dominated, with Zibanejad, Panarin, and Fox slicing up the Sabres. Eventually Dahlin took a hooking call, giving the Rangers a four-on-three powerplay. The shooting gallery resumed until the Rangers got one more stroke of luck. Adam Fox walked the puck into the high-slot and took a wrister that was deflected directly to Artemiy Panarin. He was at an odd angle, but he doesn’t miss with that much open net.
BREAD IN THE BASKET, WIN IN THE BASKET. pic.twitter.com/aoYozHpMrg— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 12, 2023
. . .
For the second game in a row, the Rangers underwhelmed for a majority of regulation before notching a win in extra time. The story of the game was Igor Shesterkin, who turned in one of his best performances this season. He made 32 out of 33 saves while facing 2.74 or 2.9 xG, depending on if you prefer NaturalStatTrick or HockeyViz. Or, if you prefer a qualitative analysis, he played one hell of a game. The Rangers must hope he is rounding into shape, because they are going to need him at his best to for their glass cannon build to outscore their defensive deficiencies.
The Rangers will take on Pittsburgh tomorrow at 4:00 and will have the chance to put some distance between themselves and the Penguins in the standings.