The Rangers love to make it difficult on themselves, don't they? The Rangers held back Buffalo despite 3 late penalties to skate to a 3-2 shootout win at MSG tonight.
The Rangers and Sabres skated to a scoreless tie in the first period. Although the bulk of the play was spent in the Buffalo end, the Rangers could only muster 7 shots against Ryan Miller, despite a couple good chances by JT Miller and a Boyle-Gaborik 2 on 1 that failed to connect.
Sadly, the Ranger team that went into the dressing room at the end of the first period, didn't bother to show up in the second. The suddenly turnover happy Rangers who were aggresively forechecked all period by Buffalo became lazy and careless with the puck and wound up being docked for it. Nearly midway through the frame, following a terrible icing by Stralman which left a depleted Rangers top unit on the ice, Richards won the ensuing faceoff but it was Sabres' center Mikhail Grigorenko, whose long reach took the puck away from Brad Richards. The puck found Drew Stafford who blasted a shot glove side over Lundqvist's shoulder.
If, and a big if, there was to be a turning point this season, tonight's 3rd period was it. The Rangers came out better to start the third period. But it wasn't until Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta delivered a nasty crosscheck to Brad Richards with his back turned along the boards that sent Kaleta off with a 5 minute boarding major, game misconduct and a likely meeting with Brendan Shanahan that woke the Rangers from their deep slumber.
On the ensuing power play it took the Rangers all of 7 seconds to find the back of the net. What appeared to be a set play, Stepan won the faceoff and after a couple quick passes around the perimeter of the Buffalo zone, Rick Nash found an open Stepan at the doorstep to tie the game at one at 3:35.
Less than a minute later, Rick Nash gave the Rangers the go-ahead goal, receiving a feed from Gaborik and beat Miller from the right circle, 43 seconds after Stepan tied it.
Even with the ice tilted against the Sabres, they still managed to rain on the Rangers parade. At the tail end of the 5 minute major, Nathan Gerbe and Steve Ott found themselves up ice on a shorthanded 2 on 1 with Rick Nash the only Ranger back. Although McDonagh did everything he could to backcheck, the puck found its way past a sliding Nash and a croutched McDonagh to Nathan Gerbe, who beat Lundqvist high glove once again to tie the game at two, 8:19 in.
The Rangers made it even more difficult on themselves even further to close out the third period and into overtime. The Rangers had to kill off 3 penalties just to get the game into a shootout. Two of the penalties against Rick Nash, one a weak hooking call on Kevin Porter with just under 5 minutes to go and a puck over the glass penalty with 34 seconds left in regulation. The Rangers did a masterful job holding the dead last ranked Sabres power play with little opportunity, even in overtime killing off the rare 5 on 3 to force the shootout.
What a game... edge of your seat action after Kaleta was sent off.
Before the you know what hit the fan in the third period, I wanted to focus on the Rangers first PP chance midway through the first period, 3 shots and good sustained pressure in the Buffalo end, but there's still way too much standing around and perimeter play, was far too easy for PK'ers to stand in shooting lanes.
Didn't like the amount of line-jumbling Torts pulled tonight to get Gaborik going. Gaborik played on all 3 lines at different points during the game and no matter where he was, his confidence simply wasn't there.
Richards had an OK game before the hit by Kaleta, hopefully he'll shake off the hit and find his game. At some point as this shortened season wears on, he's going to be called upon to step up. We're still waiting for that moment...
Speaking of Richards, I was sure he had sustained a major shoulder/collarbone injury after taking that hit, but recovered quickly enough to get a shift in on the 5 minute power play.
JT Miller had one of his better games tonight, stepped up to the plate big time in the third period, did everything but score.
Nash played like a man possessed in the third period and was the catalyst to the Rangers winning tonight. The man is impossible to stop with the puck on his stick when he steps his game up like he did tonight.
Nash did take a couple years off of my life, falling in front of Lundqvist with the puck at the end of OT which nearly led to Buffalo winning.
I tweeted during the game, Stepan is quietly having a breakout year. He's slowly, but surely becoming the future No. 1 center of this club, when Richards talents eventually decline... and hopefully they haven't started to already.
Love the stare down Stepan gave Miller after his goal... with questions surrounding the Rangers toughness, it's nice to see the Rangers attempt to intimidate somebody for once.
Can't say enough about Staal filling in with Girardi in the box during the 5 on 3 in OT....
Callahan and Nash... filthy moves in the shootout.
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Anyone else noticed Stepan keeps making the same goal every game? standing left before the goal, putting it in when he gets fed. :)
I'm sorry, but this was an atrocious win by the Blueshirts. I went to the Whale vs. the Sound Tigers yesterday and they played a more well-deserved win then their NHL counterpart. There is no reason that they should barely come out with an OT shootout win against this pathetic Buffalo squad who was without Vanek.
Yes I know a win in a win, but do you really think this team is going to be able to compete with top teams in the league this year?
Not until they prove me wrong and can play a full 60 minutes of hockey.
@ShreddyMercury buffalo had won three in a row including beating New Jersey without vanek. Also, have handed the bruins 2 of their three regulation losses... So they can play good hockey at times.
@ShreddyMercury I agree. It was pretty hard to watch but they did show some good things that they could build upon in the 3rd period. the refs really sucked this game, and killed any flow the team could have had. The way the game is called now - lifting the stick is a hooking, a hit from the side is a boarding. I wish they'd let the marginal stuff go and let them play the game..
@ShreddyMercury One step at a time, dude.
Best game I've see from Stepan all season. Anyone else think DelZotto over committed too aggressively and created that 2-1 short handed bogey. If he simply plays D there and splits the middle it's even numbers coming back into our zone - instead he comes all the way across the ice to try to keep the puck in with Mac D already out of position.
Even though we were sketchy for the second period, I'm so glad we managed to stand up and capitalize in the third. Exciting game for sure.
O and HUGE game Tuesday, which you guys failed to mention... HHAHAHAHAHA.
Screw the Flyers. Lets Go Rangers
I really don't like the shuffling of gaborik, keep the lines the same and build some chemistry. I thought JT Miller played his best game as a Ranger so far. He looked very fast, strong on the puck, and opened up the ice for other players.
The Powerplay looks completely different with Nash, opens it up a lot more.
I know I said it was between Hagelin and McDonagh, but I think I may have to go Nash for the jersey, he is such a beast.
Here you finally have a penalty that is visible to everyone, after all the usual phantom calls. Only, check the replay from the side view of the hit, facing the corner. Kaleta comes from the right, throws the cross-check (not a boarding penalty if you really want to make the right call) and the ref standing in the corner about 20 feet away makes NO CALL!!!! Just looks towards the back of the net away from the hit. More brilliance in the ruination of the game by Butthead's oversight. Just add to it the additional corrupting of the standings with another 3 point game and it's just another day in the march towards the Nerf Hockey League.
In following this blog as of late I see I'm probably the biggest Gabby fan on this whole page. I'm happy to see the coaching staff trying to get him going moving him around but he looked so lost out there. It was hard to watch. tonight's game - 1st period, neither team competed. 2nd period buffalo played OK, rangers zombified. 3rd period Rangers finally wake up and win the game, but not until adding undo drama. Nash is looking more and more comfortable in a Rangers Jersey - he's such a beast!!!
This is to answer the comment here on why Bickel is on this team. Let me say that Bickel plays a more important role than half the players on this team. I know that he is not the gifted defenseman you fanboys expect to be filled at every defensive pairing. His role is to step up and protect his teammates when needed, and he has always done so admirably. He always answers the bell, and has never backed away from a challenge. With Prust, and Rupp now gone, this team is severely lacking in toughness. Not too many players fear Asham (when he ever is healthy). Furthermore, with Bickel in the lineup, he can play forward or defense as needed. I hope he's in the lineup EVERY game!
@MikeBlue Yeah not sure exactly what your definition of defending players is but Bickel is not fitting that role. Its not necessarily his fault he does not get a lot of ice time normally. His job right now should be filling Asham's role which means making his presence known on the ice and dropping the gloves if need be. I would much rather have a guy like Brandon Mashinter in on the wing at least he is capable of scoring and he is a big guy as well.
@MikeBlue Which he isn't even doing. Bickel is a yokel, he is terrible at picking his spots. The last game against the Lightning, he fought Crombeen when the Rangers had a ridiculous amount of momentum already. He was doing the Lightning a favor.
Besides that, Bickel is so bad at skating that he can't land clean, hard hits. Also, he constantly puts himself way out of position to attempt said hits. Saying Bickel has a more important role than half the players on the team is absolutely moronic, the guy is useless and NOBODY fears him.
@TheNYRBlog @NYRblogneill @TheWrage great work on the blog and post match reports. Even better reading after a win.
I'd say tonight was the best their power play has looked all year. There wasn't one awful sequence. Maybe they finally have some confidence with how they go about the power play.
This was the first game I saw all season that the Rangers won because they played with heart and emotion. We have been waiting for that emotional win I think we got something close tonight. Gaborik and Richards (who is now maybe hurt) really need to step up I am so sick of them not playing to their potential Richards shot looked bad all game. Cally, Haglin, Stepan, Miller, and Nash were very very good tonight. Defense was solid Del Zotto made some ill advised moves but he always does that. Boyle, Pyatt, and Powe all played Torts style hockey especially on some of the penalty kills tonight. @KevinDeLury I don't know if you have the number of minutes Bickel played tonight and if they did not score so quickly after the hit maybe he would have played more but I have no idea why he is on this team. He took a bad penalty and I don't think did anything the rest of the game why is he here to replace asham??
@maxrokz He had a steady shift in the first two periods, but the Kaleta penalty threw off his ice time and to be honest I don't think he played in the third period.
Really liking Step, Miller and Hags game right now....It's great to see cause they're our future.....LGR
me, too - but what's with Boyle seeing as much ice time as Hagelin tonight? Did Hagelin do something Torts didn't like?
@Dudeinski And Kreider scored for second straight game with the Whale tonight.
Neill, I also think you're right about the turning point. I've been waiting for something to bring this team closer together all year and they really rallied around that Kaleta hit. Hard to tell the long term impact it'll have, but for one night it surely sparked them.
Not sure I've ever seen Stepan as good in the faceoff circle as he was on the penalty kill in OT. Doubt it's related but Stepan has been on fire since all the O'Reilly rumors started.
@KevinDeLury Hagelin and Stepan are really starting to develop into something this year.