The Rangers came out flat and played an awful first period. Then they took the lead but allowed a tying goal with four seconds left in the second period. Still, they found a way to win and came way with a victory that makes the next two games the most important regular season games in years.
The Islanders lost to Washington and are now just five points ahead of the Rangers. A Blueshirts sweep and the difference will be one point. No one could ask for or expect more from this young team.
The responsibility for this win falls on the shoulders of Igor Shesterkin who was excellent early when the Sabres were swarming. In the first period, Buffalo had 25 shot attempts to 12 for the Rangers, including seven high danger chances while the Rangers had none.
With Shesterkin holding the fort, the Ranger escaped a scoreless first period and took the lead only to see the Sabres tie it on a sloppy penalty kill. Sam Reinhart tied the score with just four seconds left in the second period.
But where this team would have lost on a fluky goal or a bad bounce earlier this season, now they found a way to win, scoring two goals and turning the game into a relative laugher.
Coach David Quinn was asked what happened in the first period. “I thought they (Sabres) were playing faster than we were…they were skating faster than we were. I though the second was much better for us. A real kick in the ass we give up that goal at the end of the period, just some sloppy penalty killing…you play back to back, you win the first one the way we did, human nature kicks in, I don’t care what is at stake, I just thought they were hungrier team to start the game, we were fortunate to get out of it nothing-nothing.”
Even though they gave up that late goal to tie the game, the Rangers were a confident team heading into the third. Brendan Smith said “I thought we had a really good second period. We talked about it in the dressing room, to keep the same thing…get to the front of the net, get to the dirty areas and we’ll create more opportunities that way.”
That exactly what they did. The Rangers were the better team over the last two periods and they got that dirty goal and then the power play took over.
Here is a video recap of the game.