Artemi Panarin scored the overtime winner on the powerplay as the New York Rangers took a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres probably deserved better in this game, but a couple of unlucky bounces went the Rangers way. This game had a definite playoff feel to it and was thoroughly entertaining. Both teams played solid defensively and both goaltenders made big saves when their teams needed them.
Jeff Skinner scored the lone Sabres goal on a superb pass from Ilya Lyubushkin in the second period. Patrick Kane scored the other Ranger goal. Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin stopped 32 shots and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (UPL) stopped 24 shots for the Sabres.
With the OT point, the Sabres are seven points behind both Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders in the race for the final playoff spot:
This was the first of three meetings between the Sabres and Rangers.
No roster changes in terms of who played for today’s game, but changes were made to three of the four forward lines. UPL got the start in nets.
Close first period
It was a fairly quiet start for the first half of the first period. The Rangers were outshooting the Sabres 6-2, but neither team had anything in terms of scoring chances.
It was a much stronger second half of the period for the Sabres as they generated a couple of good chances. Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin looked behind himself on a shot from Peyton Krebs and the Mittelstadt-Jost-Plofsson line had a really strong shift in latter part of the period.
No score after one. Shots were 8-7 in favor of the Rangers.
Good second for Buffalo
Jeff Skinner opened the scoring at 7:52 on a great passing play from Ilya Lyubushkin. Tage Thompson controlled the puck down low, passed it back to Lyubushkin at the blueline and the defenceman fed Skinner cross-ice for a one-timer that beat Shesterkin. It was Skinner’s 29th of the season.
The Rangers tied it up on a lucky bounce off of Owen Power’s skate at 11:28. Patrick Kane got credit for the goal that went off of Power and through UPL’s legs.
The Sabres got a late penalty. In my mind, it was a ‘phantom’ penalty, but Girgensens was called for hooking with 56 seconds to go. The Sabres managed to kill it off until the end of the period.
Shots were 13-5 in favor of Buffalo.
Playoff feel in the third
There were a few good opportunities for both teams in the first half of he period, but both UPL and Shesterkin stood tall in their creases. Shesterkin had a really nice stop on Jordan Greenway.
The Sabres killed off a too-many-men on the ice penalty with some solid defensive work.
Dylan Cozens had a golden opportunity with under a minute to play. His one-time, point-blank shot from the doorstep was stopped by Shesterkin.
Shots in the third period were 14-11 Buffalo and 33-22 after 60 minutes.
The Rangers got an OT powerplay on one of those plays where a player squeezes the opposing players stick under their arm to draw a ‘hooking’ call. This time, it was Dahlin who went to the box. And New York capitalized with the 4-on-3 advantage on a goal by Artemi Panarin at 2:02.
It was definitely disappointing to lose this one in overtime. This may have been the most complete defensive effort from the Sabres all season, with the possible exception of their win in Winnipeg. They did everything right in this one, but a couple of unlucky bounced did them in; the Kane goal off of Power’s skate and then the OT goal that deflected to a wide open Panarin. If they can play like this for the rest of the season, they’ll give them selves a shot at the playoffs.
Igor Shesterkin was exceptional in this game and if it wasn’t for him, the Sabres take this one in regulation time. UPL was no slouch either; he made some clutch saves to keep the game tied.
With is strong performance today, I would think that UPL will get the call for the game on Monday in Toronto. But we’ll see… Don Granato has been rotating his three goalies regardless of win/loss. I’d put UPL in though. We need to find out if he’s got what it takes to carry the team down the stretch.
After the Dallas debacle, I commented that maybe Victor Olofsson had finally broken free from his scoring drought. Well… maybe not. Olofsson had two golden opportunities late in the third period; he fanned on beautiful pass from Dahlin, and couldn’t lift it past Shesterkin’s pad later in the third. I’d still consider sitting him in favor of Hinostroza against Toronto.
Next Sabres game is Monday in Toronto against the Maple Leafs.
Catch up on all the Sabres scores for the 2022-23 season.