The Buffalo Sabres failed to win consecutive home games for the second time this season as the New York Rangers capitalized on two short-handed goals, en route to a 4-1 victory tonight. With the loss the Sabres have dropped to 7-9-1 at home, and have now lost seven of their last nine on home ice.
Both teams had opportunities early, but the game remained scoreless after twenty minutes. Buffalo failed to convert on some terrific opening period chances, including two partial breakaways by Thomas Vanek, both of which resulted in shots missing the Ranger net.
The Sabres started the second period carrying the play and midway through the middle frame the Ranger’s captain, Ryan Callahan, was called for cross-checking to give the Sabres a man advantage. With the puck deep in New York’s end, Ranger’s defenseman Steve Eminger banks a clearing attempt off the glass right onto the stick of rookie Carl Hagelin at center ice. Hagelin crossed the Buffalo blue line and ripped a wrist shot over Jhonas Enroth’s glove to put the Ranger’s up 1-0 on his first career short-handed goal.
The Sabres would answer on the next shift, as Thomas Vanek stole the puck from Marian Gaborik at center ice and started a three on one into the Ranger’s zone. Vanek sent a head-man pass to Jason Pominville who dropped the puck back to Vanek in the high slot, Thomas’s slapshot beat former Sabre Martin Biron between the legs to knot the game at 1-1.
With less than three minutes remaining in the second period, the Ranger’s Brandon Dubinsky was called for boarding when he hit Sabres rookie Brayden McNabb from behind. On the ensuing power-play the Ranger’s tallied their second short-handed goal of the game on a turn around wrist shot by Ryan Callahan. The goal was the fifth short-handed goal surrendered by the Sabres this season, all of which have come on home ice.
Despite increased pressure by the Sabres in the third period, Buffalo could not solve Martin Biron, and insurance goals by Carl Hagelin (his second of the game), and Marian Gaborik on the power-play led to a Ranger’s 4-1 victory.
Both teams fired 33 shots on net, and the Ranger’s scored 3 special teams goals, 2 short-handed and 1 on the power play. The Sabres went 0 for 3 on the power-play and 3 for 4 on the penalty kill. Martin Biron finished with a .972% save percentage for his fifth win of the season. Jhonas Enroth, who struggled tonight, now drops to 8-6-1 on the season.
Buffalo continues their home-stand with a matchup against the divison rival Ottawa Senators on Tuesday December 13th.