The Buffalo Sabres headed into the Madison Square Garden tonight, looking to slow down the New York Rangers.
As the first period took place, it was truly unclear who would take advantage of the back and forth momentum.
New York would get a few changes on the man advantage, but were unable to convert.
Buffalo and New York would continue to trade chances, as evident by the 21 combined shots, but the game was scoreless after twenty minutes.
After the second period began, the game remained tight with both teams continually trading changes.
Finally, Buffalo would take advantage of a great offensive chance around midway in the second. It would be a Tyler Ennis pass to Mike Weber, which resulted in a point shot. Weber’s shot would be redirected into the net by a well-placed Drew Stafford. Stafford’s 16th goal of the season, at 9:06, would put the Sabres up 1-0.
Matt Hackett was on his game in the second period, despite being rung with a shot off the mask. Hackett would stop 17 of 18 shots in the period.
The one shot Hackett couldn’t stop came from Benoit Pouliot at 19:29 of the period. Pouliot’s 15th goal of the season would tie this game at 1.
Heading into the third, Buffalo and New York were tied, but New York was outshooting Buffalo 27-13.
The third period itself was a mirror image of the second. Buffalo would outshoot the Rangers 11-3, over the final twenty minutes. All that was different about the third period was that New York scored the only goal.
As the period progressed, it appeared that this game would need extra time to find a winner. Rick Nash would have something to say about that.
A klunky line change, and a great pass from Martin St. Louis, set up Rick Nash just under the right side of the blueline. Nash let off an absolute cannon that would beat Matt Hackett. Nash’s 26th goal of the season, at 18:18, would be the game winner for New York.
With this 2-1 loss, the Sabres fall to 21-50-9. This marks the first time in franchise history that the Buffalo Sabres have lost 50 games in regulation.
The Sabres are in action again this Saturday afternoon, when they take on the Boston Bruins. Puck drops shortly after 12:30 PM and the game will be broadcast on MSG.