Never Give UP, Never Surrender

Their backs were against the wall, but they found a way.

Never Give UP, Never Surrender

Score: Sabres 3 | Rangers 2 (SO)

Shots: BUF 38 | NYR 28

Buffalo Sabres Goals:

1)      Peterka (Quinn, Jost)

2)      Mittelstadt (Tuch)

3)      Mittelstadt (Shootout Winner)

New York Rangers Goals:

1)      Panarin (Zibanejad, Kane)

2)      Panarin (Tarasenko)

Plus 1: Mighty Casey at the Bat

One scroll through Sabres' Twitter might indicate that a former top 10 pick was wasted on the young Minnesota center. This season, doubters have been given plenty of evidence to the contrary and this game was no exception. When the chips were down and the season was on the line, Casey Mittelstadt came up clutch. Not only did he bat one out the air to tie the game, but he also secured the shootout winner with a slick move to the backhand. He continues to increase his career high point total which now sits at 54 points. He has been excellent on the top line with Skinner and Tuch. This has allowed the team to maximize Thompson’s effectiveness while he plays through an upper body injury. With the season on the line, mighty Casey stepped up to the plate and knocked one out of the park.

Minus 1: Stonewall Shesterkin

There’s a reason Igor Shesterkin won the Veznia last year; he is an absolute filthy goaltender. Buffalo threw just about everything they had at him, and he consistently found ways to make phenomenal saves. The Sabres came out flying and badly outshot the Rangers. Unfortunately, that would only produce a one goal Buffalo lead. This wasn’t enough as Panarin’s two second period tallies gave the Rangers control of the game head into the 3rd. Late in the 2nd, it looked as though Buffalo was going to get an equalizer, but Shesterkin robbed Owen Power blind off a back door opportunity. The Sabres got a front row seat to how the Rangers can weather a storm and mount a lethal counterattack due to stellar goaltending and a deadly rush attack. Fortunately, the Sabres were able to tie the game after Tuch and Mittelstadt pounced on a Ranger turnover. With Buffalo’s final push at the end of regulation and into overtime, Igor shut the door tight. Without some equally stellar goaltending from Levi, Buffalo’s playoff push might have had its last shove.

Plus 2: Ice in his Veins

Ryan Miller spoiled Sabre fans when the shootout was introduced in 2005. He rarely made the first move, could read shooters like a book, and had the athleticism to match any moves shooters could muster. Devon Levi has the same traits and is continuing to prove he can utilize them. There could not have been more pressure on the young goaltender as Ranger superstar Panarin came down with a chance to end the game. Levi didn’t blink and forced Panarin to stickhandle himself into the corner. With another great save to seal the game, Levi is proving to be the best shootout goalie since the great Ryan Miller. If he keeps turning in performances like tonight, it will be increasingly difficult not to name him the unquestioned starting goalie.

Final Thoughts

Their backs were against the wall, but they found a way. The Rangers has less than 10 losses when leading after 2 and the Sabres have fewer than 10 wins when trailing after 2. However, this team has continued to dig deep and find a way to keep their playoff hopes alive. There are only 3 games left and they still have a chance. Buffalo will need to win out and get some help, but a playoff matchup against the Bruins is not (yet) impossible. This was a phenomenal win against a tough opponent. Regardless of how the season finishes, this team shows no fear and understands how close they are to making some noise in this league. For now, their hopes live for another day.