Consistency is a hard thing for young teams to learn. The Buffalo Sabres fell 6-3 against the New York Rangers being outplayed for large portions of the game.
Like many first periods this season, the Sabres started slow being out shot 9-7. The Rangers scored first when Dylan Mcllrath scored from the right side after a nice pass by Keith Yandle just under six minutes in. Gionta, however, ended Buffalo’s 228 minute even strength scoring drought with his 6th of the year tying the game at 1-1 with a nice tip in pass from Marcus Foligno. For the end of the 1st Buffalo looked even with the Rangers and pushed play well.
The second period was all New York, with the Rangers dominating large periods of the play. It felt very similar to the third period of the Red Wings game with Buffalo sitting back on their heals not challenging the Rangers. Chad Johnson did a good job keeping the game close, but the Rangers took the lead 2-1 when Stalberg spun around in front beating Chad Johnson five hole with five minutes to go in the 2nd.
New York kept that momentum going right into the 3rd with Brassard tipping in an easy pass to put the Rangers up 3-1.
To Buffalo’s credit they pushed back to tie the game. Both goals came from recently returned Zemgus Girgensons with nice assists by Jack Eichel. The first goal Eichel made a really nice no look behind the back pass to Girgensons who was in front on the left of the net and roofed a shot high to make it 3-2. Less then a minute later, Eichel beat the Rangers defense in on the left side of their zone and fed a streaking Girgensons on a mini breakaway who deked out Lundqvist to tie the game at 3-3.
Unfortunately, like so many games recently, Buffalo couldn’t take advantage of the recently gained momentum. The Rangers scored a minute later to regain the lead when Bogosian failed to block a pass across the ice from Jesper Fast who got the puck to J.T. Miller who had an empty net left and put in an easy goal. Then a little less then three minutes later Zuccarello scored on the power play after David Legwand took a bad holding penalty. The Rangers scored late on an empty netter from Derick Brassard to finish the game with a 6-3 win.
Buffalo is now on a three-game losing streak. What is frustrating in all three loses was the inability to take a penalty kill or a 2 goal out burst to tie the game, and use it to build forward the rest of the game. Even with Girgensons back the lineup desperately misses Ennis and Reinhart on the score sheet. The depth is just not there forcing the big guns to have to score too much if Buffalo is to win.
Zemgus Girgensons: First game back and a two goal night. He and Eichel seem to have a really nice connection and it is enjoyable watching those two play together.
Jack Eichel: Both assists were the type of moves that star centers make. If he finally has a true running mate with Girgensons look out to the rest of the league because Eichels talent and vision mix perfectly with Girgensons tenacity and physical play.
Matt Moulson: They’ve cut his time substantially, made a lot of lineup changes, and even put him on the powerplay. He just is in such a bad place right now you wonder if some time in the AHL and a few goals down there may be the only way to break his drought and re-spark some confidence.
Chad Johnson: The defense has been suspect lately but he looked unprepared on the second Ranger goal and he should’ve had better positioning on the fifth. He is a decent backup, but any talk of him being the #1 guy goes out the window in five goal losses like this. If you want to be the guy, you need to make the saves.