The Buffalo Sabres offense played a strong game Tuesday night against the New York Rangers, but were only able to net two goals in a 4-2 loss against the Broadway Blueshirts.
The Rangers would take the lead early, capitalizing on the power play following a Zach Bogosian delay-of-game penalty. Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello hit former Blue Jacket Derrick Brassard with a long lead pass, sending Brassard in all alone on Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner. Brassard found the back of the net by shooting it short side on Lehner, giving the Rangers the 1-0 just 7:30 into the game.
The second period was filled with both great opportunities and goals for both teams. The scoring in the second would open just five minutes into the period, when Mats Zuccarello extended the Rangers lead to two. The Norwegian-forward received a pass from center Derek Stepan at the goal line, and shot it at the pads of Lehner. The puck trickled through Lehner’s legs and into the back of the net, giving Zuccarello his second point of the night.
Just moments later, the Rangers increased their lead to 3-0 when Jesper Fast scored his 10th of the season. Fast’s slap shot from the point flew past a distracted Lehner, who was screened by Rangers forward Chris Kreider. This proved to be the end of Lehner’s night, who was replaced by Chad Johnson immediately after Fast’s goal.
The Sabres got one back shortly after Fast’s goal. Sam Reinhart scored the 19th goal of his rookie campaign. Jack Eichel started the rush from the Sabres defensive zone, taking the puck to the other end of the ice before hitting Reinhart with a perfectly-placed pass in front of the net, who chipped it over Antti Raanta. Eichel’s assist on Reinhart’s goal extended his point streak to four games.
Buffalo cut the Rangers’ lead to one with just four minutes remaining in the second period following a beautiful play involving Brian Gionta and Johan Larsson. The Sabres’ captain passed the puck to Larsson, who sent it through Raanta’s pads and into the back of the net. Larsson’s goal, his sixth of the season, is his third goal in the past four games.
Like the second period, the third period was filled with scoring opportunities for the Sabres. Unfortunately, unlike the second period, they would be unable to capitalize. Buffalo poured the pressure on the Rangers for the majority of the third, outshooting New York 17-4 in the period. With roughly two minutes remaining in the game, a missed icing call by the officials eventually resulted in a TJ Miller empty net goal, sealing the 4-2 victory for the Rangers.
Although they weren’t able to pull out the victory, the Sabres offense came to play Tuesday night. They outshot New York by ten shots, and may have won the game had a couple of bounces went their way. While they didn’t capitalize on all of their opportunities, it was nice to see offense from a team that usually has great trouble producing it.
Chad Johnson played a strong game after replacing Robin Lehner, stopping all 11 shots that came his way and giving the Sabres a chance to win.
Leading the team in ice time was Zach Bogosian, who played for just under 25 minutes Tuesday night. The Massena, New York native finished the game with five shots and an assist on Larsson’s goal. Like Larsson, Bogosian’s assist is his third point in the past four games.
The next time the Sabres take the ice will be Thursday night at the Bell Centre, as they take on struggling Montreal Canadiens. The Habs have lost their previous four games.