The Rangers Special Teams Spectacle:
The Rangers delivered on both sides in special teams. They pounced on a hooking penalty late in the first period by Zach Benson, who was making his NHL debut after the Sabres selected the 18-year-old with the thirteenth overall pick in this Summer’s draft. It only took the Blueshirts 16 seconds to tally on their first power play of the season.
The Blueshirts wasted no time, scoring just 16 seconds into their first power play of the season. Chris Kreider’s stick deflected an Adam Fox point shot and found the back of the net. This power-play goal marked Kreider’s 35th since the 2021-22 season started, putting him on par with his linemate, Mika Zibanejad, in that category. The assist was also the 200th of Adam Fox’s career.
In his NHL debut, 18-year-old Benson hit the ice for 14: 27, mainly playing on the right wing alongside center Casey Mittelstadt and Jordan Greenway.
Benson made quite an impact, firing two shots on goal and even managed to get under Zibanejad’s skin when he made contact with Shesterkin’s glove.
“After the first three shifts, I think, settled in, but I think we played a good game overall,” Benson said. “Just a couple bounces the other way and it ended up in our net.”
Benson and the Sabres also struggled against New York’s penalty kill, who held firm in the third through consecutive penalties.
Jacob Trouba and Ryan Lindgren blocked shots before Mika Zibanejad picked up the puck and raced into the offensive zone. He avoided a Dahlin check and found Kreider, who scored a shorthanded goal to make it 4-1 with 8:26 remaining. It was his eighth shorthanded tally since the 2021-22 season, the most in the NHL.
Laviolette praised their “courageous” penalty kill. Yet the team was also courageous at even strength with 23 blocked shots, 13 coming in the third period.