The New York Rangers travelled to Buffalo to take on the Sabres on friday, looking to bounce back from a loss to the Winnipeg Jets on tuesday. Coming into the night, the Rangers first line of Mats Zuccarello, Mika Zibanejad, and Chris Kreider had been on fire, responsible for a majority of the goals the Rangers have scored since the break.
After a penalty kill that saw rookie Rasmus Dahlin’s shot clank the bar, the Rangers got on the board with a Boo Nieves goal with 16 minutes left in the period. After a Sabres turnover Kevin Shattenkirk threw the puck on net, which resulted in a loose puck that a diving Brendan Smith poked over to Nieves, who finished. Alexandar Georgiev continued his strong play as he blanked Zemgus Girgensons on a breakaway with eight minutes left in the period. Two minutes later, Anthony DeAngelo collected the puck in the corner and fed Vladislav Namestnikov at the point, who rifled a slap shot that was deflected by Jasper Fast into the net.
Early in the second period, Jeff Skinner got on the board. Marc Staal lost the puck behind the net, which led to Jason Pominville feeding an open Skinner who finished with a wrist shot. Just a minute later the Rangers took back the momentum thanks to Pavel Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey. Buch battled behind the net and pushed a one handed pass just far enough for Vesey to finish at the near post. Vesey had almost no angle and was aided by weak positioning from Linus Ullmark. Later, in the dying seconds of a Nieves penalty, Dahlin won a loose puck near the boards and fed it to another open Skinner, who again finished a wrist shot. With 50 seconds remaining in the period Skinner was at it again, but this time he was diving as he embellished a high-sticking penalty that was missed by the refs and saw Shattenkirk head to the box instead.
The Sabres came out hot in the third, but couldn’t finish as Jack Eichel missed the net on a two-on-zero while Georgiev made a beautiful sliding save on Dahlin after he received a cross ice pass from Eichel. With 12 minutes to go in the game Kyle Okposo delivered a hit to Zuccarello near the boards. Okposo and DeAngelo then dropped the gloves, leading to a one hit knockout from DeAngelo that sent a bloodied Okposo to the locker room. With nine minutes left the Rangers fourth line created another great chance, but this time Rangers debutant Connor Brickley fanned on a wide open net. Later in the period the Rangers second line scored again after an incredible shift that featured chance after chance. The puck finally found the net when Hayes took it off of Dahlin, circled around to the middle of the ice and delivered a beautiful pass to Buch on the backside. Eight seconds later, Pionk shot the puck into the zone where Ullmark misplayed it, allowing a streaking Namestnikov to put the icing on the cake. Namestnikov would then strike again into the empty net, combining for two of the easiest goals you’ll ever see after a 23 game streak with no goals.
Overall the Rangers put together a complete performance that included goals from three different lines and fantastic goaltending. Brady Skjei left the locker room in an apparent non-serious injury, which is something to watch before the Rangers take on Pittsburgh in two days time.