Score: Rangers 5, Sabres 4
Shots: BUF: 22 NYR: 36
Buffalo Sabres: Goals: Rasmus Asplund, Vinnie Hinostroza, Tage Thompson, Rasmus Dahlin
New York Rangers: Goals: Chris Kreider, Jacob Trouba, Kaapo Kakko, K’Andre Miller, Ryan Lindgren
Plus 1: Buffalo Played Better in the First Two Periods
The Sabres scored on their second power play in the first period, and enjoyed a 1:10 man advantage before officials blew the whistle on a delayed Rangers penalty. Buffalo usually struggles to score on power plays. Watching them get one is a rare treat, something fans would like to see more of this season. They also showed strong offensive ability throughout the second, getting the lead and not letting up the pressure.
Minus 1: Can’t Keep a Lead
The New York Rangers were able to come back and score whenever the Sabres did get a lead. Buffalo scored first, when Rasmus Asplund got one in the net on a power play with 4:07 left in the first period. However, less than four minutes later Chris Kreider tied up the game with a Rangers power play goal to make it 1-1.
During the second period, the Sabres tantalized their fans, making them think they could maintain a lead after Vinnie Hinostroza scored. However, Jacob Trouba tied it again with a man advantage on a delayed penalty some six minutes later. Kappo Kakko made it 3-2 New York at 7:53 and Tage Thompson answered back less than a minute later to tie it up once more. Rasmus Dahlin would widen the lead and make it 4-3 Buffalo at 6:49 but K’Andre Miller dashed the Sabres’ hopes by evening the score less than 20 seconds later. It’s obvious that the Sabres’ goaltending and defense issues keep costing them leads and ultimately, points and games.
Minus 2: Rangers Get a Little Help from the Refs
Officials waved back a Cody Eakin goal after they claimed Eakin had contact with Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev. As Hank Balling of Hockey Buzz pointed out, the refs never called an interference penalty on the play but decided that initial contact was enough the take the goal away. Either it’s an interference penalty or it isn’t. If it isn’t a penalty, it should have been a goal.
The referees also called an interference penalty on Jacob Bryson in the waning minutes of the 1st period, a call that was questionable and gave New York their first opportunity to tie the game.
Minus 3: Sabres Don’t Finish Out the 3rd Period
T McGee had the Comment of the Game: “They didn’t play to win the entire 3rd. They went away from almost everything that was working in the 1st 2 periods. Put the puck on net. Stop deliberately going backwards.” The Sabres have developed the bad habit of not playing to win in 3rd periods. They spent most of the period trying to get to overtime instead of playing to win, especially during the final minutes. Instead of aggressively pursuing the puck in the Rangers’ zone, in the last seconds Buffalo attempted to tie up the puck in their boards instead of clearing it out of their own zone. That strategy failed, when Ryan Lindgren broke free to score with 0.4 seconds left to win with an assist from Zabinejad and Fox.
Aaron Dell let in a game losing goal with 11.8 seconds left against the Leafs and lost the game again with less than one second against the Rangers. If Craig Anderson isn’t coming back anytime soon, the Sabres should bring up UPL and give him a try. The team’s defensemen also can’t seem to play three consistent periods. Maybe it’s time to send some dead wood down to Rochester and shake things up.