The Buffalo Sabres found their groove against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. Anders Nilsson saved 24 of 25 shots while Justin Bailey recorded his first career goal.
The Sabres came out of the gates swinging with heavy offensive pressure, while the defensive unit held the Rangers to five shots on goal in the first period.
Zemgus Girgensons opened up the scoring with a beautiful backhanded goal after a shot from Brian Gionta that rebounded off of William Carrier to beat Henrik Lundqvist glove side. Evander Kane scored his ninth goal of the year with 39 seconds remaining in the first.
The Rangers made a poor line change during transition and turned the puck over, leading to a glove side shot from Sam Reinhart that Lundqvist couldn’t hold on to
Kane made a beautiful play as he forced Kevin Klein to make a sloppy pass that Justin Bailey intercepted and would eventually score on.
Defensive pressure kept on halfway through the second period as Derek Grant labeled Jimmy Vesey coming across the Sabres blueline. A clean, legal hit from Grant as Vesey came through with his head down. Grant met him shoulder to shoulder and dropped him to the ice. Nick Holden brought some life back to the Rangers by burying a one timer feed from J.T. Miller to beat Nilsson with 4:05 remaining in the second period.
The Rangers seemed sluggish again in the third, registering their first shot on goal with only 5:28 left. The Sabres capitalized on a power play in the third period with a great passing play that involved Matt Moulson, Reinhart and Jack Eichel.
After he had a goal taken away earlier in the day, he got it back with an easy tap in on the power play.
Maybe the emotional outburst from Eichel is what this team needed to get their act together and play three solid periods of hockey. We can only hope that the Sabres continue with this energy going into Thursday’s national televised game against the Blackhawks at the United Center.
That game is schedule for an 8:30 p.m. faceoff.