Sabres drop close one at MSG

Ahead of their first game in the month of March, the Buffalo Sabres were coming off their third-straight regulation loss to wrap up the month of February, going 2-7-1 in their last ten contests and sitting with sole possession of last place in the Mass Mutual East Division™. They looked to beat the New York Rangers, who were two points up on them in the standings before puck drop.

10:28Pavel Buchnevich (6)Mika Zibanejad (5)Adam Fox (10)
10:55Sam Reinhart (8)Victor Olofsson (9)Jack Eichel (13)
12:36Alexis Lafreniere (3)Pavel Buchnevich (9)---
29:32Chris Kreider (10)Ryan Lindgren (8)Adam Fox (11)
216:21Tobias Rieder (4)Rasmus Ristolainen (5)Rasmus Dahlin (8)

The game opened in crazy fashion, with the Rangers’ Pavel Buchnevich beating Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin on a partial break to score less than 30 seconds into the game, putting the Rangers up 1-0 quicker than Sabres fans could get comfortable on their couches. Buchnevich received a long stretch pass to beat Dahlin and score the go-ahead goal.

The blue shirts wouldn’t hold the lead for long, though, as the Sabres stormed back within a minute to tie up the game, scoring the rare 5v5 goal off the rush thanks to a net-front finish from Sam Reinhart, who remains red hot for the Sabres. Victor Olofsson and the captain Jack Eichel notched the assists on the tying goal.

The madness continued, as less than two minutes after the Sabres scored, Pavel Buchnevich made some more magic happen in the offensive zone, holding onto the puck and dragging Sabres goalie Carter Hutton out of position before throwing the puck on net, which bounced off the leg of Alexis Lafrenière and into the net to make it 2-1 Rangers.

Despite some good looks and chances for both teams, it would stay 2-1 heading into the second period.

The middle frame started and remained pretty even throughout the first half of the period, until the Rangers scored about halfway through thanks to another goal from Chris Kreider, who has been on fire lately. Kreider ripped a wrist shot top shelf on Hutton’s far side, using the defenseman as a screen. The shot still looked stoppable, but nevertheless the Sabres found themselves down 3-1.

Toward the end of the second period, the Sabres put on the pressure and got their chances, finally capitalizing on a seeing-eye wrist shot from the point courtesy of Tobias Rieder, who notched his fourth goal of the season.

Once again, the Sabres were down heading into the third period, but only by a goal, and against a team they certainly have the talent to beat. Halfway through the third and final frame, the score had yet to change and the Sabres needed a spark.

It was rookie Dylan Cozens, the Sabres’ first round draft pick from 2019, who dropped the gloves for the team’s first fight since Jake McCabe fought in the season opener more than six weeks ago. Cozens and the Rangers’ Ryan Lindgren went at it, with Cozens getting in the majority of the better punches.

While this fired up the bench, the score would stay the same, and the Sabres dropped another game in regulation, 3-2.

The Sabres have now lost four straight games in regulation, and have a record of 6-11-3. Sitting at the bottom of the league standings, they play the New York Islanders three times in a row to wrap up this week, and will likely need to win all three if they are to revive any hopes of climbing up near a playoff spot.

Brandon Seltenrich
Goalie from San Francisco currently studying toward a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management at Canisius College. Founder of and host of the Puck SKLS Podcast. Avid hockey writer, podcaster, and statistician in the Buffalo area.
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