Heading into tonight’s matchup, one thing was very evident. The Sabres needed to win in order to keep their hopes alive in the ongoing playoff race.
Although they were playing their second game in as many games, the Rangers were the team who took over the game early.
New York’s offensive zone puck possession put a lot of pressure on the Sabres defense, leading to bad giveaways.
Throughout most of the first period, play would go back and forth, until about a minute-and-a-half left.
The first mistake would shortly after the half-minute mark.
Carl Hagelin, attempting a wrap around, would sling the puck towards the net. The puck proceeded to bounce off Adam Pardy’s skate and into the net for the Rangers’ first goal at 18:42.
Almost a minute later, a Brad Richards shot from the right faceoff dot snuck five-hole and put the Rangers up 2-0 at 19:39.
Just 17 seconds after the second Rangers goal, Ryan Miller went to go play the puck in front of his own net. Miller misplayed the puck, sending the puck directly onto Ryan Clowe’s stick. Clowe would not waste this golden opportunity, and he would put the Rangers up 3-0 at 19:56.
“One of the worst mistakes I’ve made in my time here,” said Miller. “Not fun to have to go through that three minute segment and watch the game slip.”
Although the Sabres allowed 3 goals in 74 seconds to end the first period, Ryan Miller stayed in the game to start the second.
That would not last very long.
Just 1:13 into the second, an Anton Stralman shot from the right side boards got passed Ryan Miller, putting New York up 4-0 at 1:13.
Immediately following that goal, Miller was pulled for Jhonas Enroth but that wouldn’t help Buffalo much.
Only 27 seconds after entering the game, Jhonas Enroth allowed his first goal. A point shot would get to Enroth, but while attempting to save the shot, the puck would trickle past Enroth and the Rangers would take a 5-0 lead at 1:40.
Buffalo was able to slow New York, but not for too long.
Shortly after gaining possession, the Rangers’ Rick Nash and Derek Stepan would enter the Sabres zone, toying with Jhonas Enroth. Stepan would pass the puck to Nash, who would wrist a shot past Enroth, putting New York up 6-0 at 7:05.
Late in the third, the Sabres would finally find themselves with a great opportunity to get on the board, following a Ryan McDonagh high stick.
A Christian Ehrhoff point shot that got tipped by Cody Hodgson, his 15th of the season, would get Buffalo on the board, at 13:50.
On the ensuing faceoff, Nathan Gerbe would steal the puck from a Rangers defender and take the puck in on Henrik Lundqvist. Gerbe would end up scoring his 5th of the season, just six seconds after the Sabres scored their first goal.
When momentum seemed to be on Buffalo’s side, New York snatched it right back just 32 seconds after Nathan Gerbe’s goal. New York’s goal would come from Ryan Callahan following a Mike Weber turnover at the Sabres’ blueline. Callahan had a clear breakaway and easily put the puck behind Enroth.
Buffalo did not give in after that seventh goal. Following a faceoff win in the Rangers zone, a Drew Stafford backhand would net the Sabres third goal, and his 6th of the season, at 16:19.
Heading into the third, with the game almost all but over, the Sabres tried to salvage something.
Buffalo had a handful of opportunities throughout the first half of the third but failed to convert. New York let the Sabres hang around, but nothing was done by Buffalo.
Jhonas Enroth had stablizied through the first half of the period as well, but that was brought to a screeching halt by Rangers forward Brad Richards.
With his third goal of the game, and first career hat trick, at 12:32 in the third, Brad Richards put the Rangers up 8-3.
The Sabres would continue to barely tread water, and would find themselves getting on the board one more time.
As time drained off the third period clock, rookie Mark Pysyk would put home his first career NHL goal on the power play. This goal at 19:20 cut the Sabres’ deficit to 4 goals.
That would be all for Buffalo, as they fell to the Rangers 8-4. This loss officially eliminated the Buffalo Sabres from playoff contention.
Following the game, goaltender Ryan Miller had some strong comments.
“We haven’t lived up to expectations,” said Miller. “If they want change or they’re pissed off, its fine. You don’t win over Buffalo fans by losing hockey games and putting up mediocre seasons, and the last three years have pretty much been that.”
The Sabres play again on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh against the Penguins. Puck drops shortly after 7:30 PM and the game can be seen on MSG.
Ryan Miller Postgame Interview:
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Ron Rolston Postgame Interview:
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