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Sabres bring end to Rangers' season-opening streak

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:46 AM
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Sabres bring end to Rangers' season-opening streak
Buffalo Sabres 3, New York Rangers 1

Oct. 15, 2008


By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com

The capacity crowd attending Wednesday’s game at Madison Square Garden between the Rangers and Buffalo Sabres arrived hoping to see the home team accomplish something that had never been done in the history of the organization. Instead, they departed having witnessed several things that the Rangers had not done so far this season, while dropping a 3-1 decision to the Sabres.

The Rangers had hoped to establish a new franchise record by winning their sixth consecutive game to start the season. Instead the Blueshirts suffered their first defeat of 2008-09, while surrendering their first two power play goals and their first shorthanded goal of the campaign.

“It seemed like we were a bit sloppy tonight, and a good team like Buffalo will take advantage of that,” noted Rangers captain Chris Drury. “I thought we came out with good energy, but just kind of faded as the game wore on.”

Despite the loss, the first-place Rangers still have a league-best 10 points. With the win, Buffalo is now 3-0-0, having given up only three goals in three games.

Trailing 2-1 entering the third period, the Rangers were handed a prime opportunity to, at least, pull even with the Sabres when Buffalo captain Craig Rivet was assessed a double-minor penalty for high-sticking Ryan Callahan just 14 seconds into the final stanza. However, not only did the Blueshirts not score on the four-minute power play, they surrendered a crushing shorthanded goal to Thomas Vanek at 1:10 to fall behind 3-1.

“Obviously that was a big moment in the game,” said Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who finished the night with 15 saves. “I had lost sight of the guy who eventually shot the puck, and that was a big goal.”

The goal was Vanek’s second of the game, and fifth already this season.

Down by two goals, the Rangers picked up their pace and created several very good scoring chances, but Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller was equal to the task. Miller finished the night with 19 saves.

The Rangers skated off the ice after two periods trailing 2-1 after the Sabres had scored a pair of power-play goals in the middle stanza. With Michal Rozsival in the penalty box for tripping Buffalo’s Daniel Paille, the Sabres crashed Lundqvist’s crease to score on the man-advantage at 5:03 of the second.

Defenseman Teppo Numminen fired a shot on goal that Lundqvist saved, but could not stop from slipping out of his grasp. The puck fell to the ice, and Ales Kotalik was able to get his stick on it and just nudge it over the goal line, tying the game 1-1 with his second goal of the season.

The goal marked the first time this season that the Rangers had surrendered a power play goal after having killed off 23 in a row to begin the 2008-09 campaign.


Exactly five minutes later came a game-changing moment as Rangers defenseman Paul Mara received a five-minute major and a game misconduct, and Buffalo cashed in to take a 2-1 lead.

The critical play occurred as Mara reached high to keep the puck in the Sabres zone at the right point. After making the play, Mara objected to an attempted high, and late, hit delivered by Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta, whose late hit in a game in Buffalo late last season had sidelined Mara with an injury.

Angered by this second offense by Kaleta, Mara proceeded to drop his gloves and rain punches on the Sabres forward, who neither dropped his gloves nor fought back. As a result, the only penalties assessed were to Mara, and the Sabres were awarded a five-minute power play.

“Maybe he wanted to engage, maybe he wanted to have a scrap, and maybe he wanted to start it and get the best of him; but the other kid made a decision not to fight,” Rangers head coach Tom Renney said of Mara’s penalty. “It was a tough penalty; but Paul made a choice to try and fight a guy, and the other guy chose not to.”

Added Rangers alternate captain Scott Gomez, “No one here is going to blame Paul Mara. That’s hockey. It would have been nice to kill it off for him, but we didn’t. He had to do what he had to do, and we have his back 100 percent.”

The Rangers did a terrific job denying the Sabres any shooting lanes during the early portion of the kill. Brandon Dubinsky, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, and Callahan, in particular, stood out with their aggressive approach on the penalty kill.

However, after a faceoff just outside the Rangers blueline, Buffalo quickly entered the offensive zone and Vanek hammered home the rebound of a Derek Roy slap shot at 12:30 to give the Sabres a 2-1 lead.

“They played just a little bit better than us tonight, especially on the power play, that was the difference,” said Lundqvist. “They crashed the net really well. They had guys around me all night.”

The Rangers did not allow another shot for the remainder of the man-disadvantage, and then played more aggressively the rest of the middle stanza, though they could not solve Miller in the process. Aaron Voros, Colton Orr, and Lauri Korpikoski played with jump down the stretch of the second, and the Rangers began to gain some momentum up until the buzzer. However, despite that extra energy, the Blueshirts were still being outshot 13-9 after 40 minutes of play.

Gomez had given the Rangers an early 1-0 lead, potting his second of the season at 6:32 of the first period. Racing into the Sabres zone on a 3-on-2 rush, Gomez dropped a pass to Rozsival, and then proceeded to charge towards the net. Rozsival snapped a shot towards Miller, but the puck deflected off of Gomez and into the net.

Gomez’s goal came on the Rangers’ third shot of the game. They would not record another shot on goal for the next 21 minutes of game action due to the suffocating team defense employed by the Sabres.

“I know that this is a group of guys that badly wants to do well,” Renney said of his team. “They want to play the game in a way that the fans and they can be proud of, but it’s not going to go your way every night.”

The Rangers will look to get right back on track Friday night when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at MSG to close out this three-game homestand. Then 24 hours later, the Rangers will skate against the Red Wings in Detroit.

scoring summary
1st Period
Scott Gomez (2) ASST: Michal Rozsival (1), Ryan Callahan (1)
1 - 0 NYR
2nd Period
PPG - Ales Kotalik (2) ASST: Clarke MacArthur (1), Teppo Numminen (3)
1 - 1 Tie
PPG - Thomas Vanek (4) ASST: Derek Roy (2), Jason Pominville (3)
2 - 1 BUF
3rd Period
SHG - Thomas Vanek (5) ASST: Daniel Paille (3), Toni Lydman (2)
3 - 1 BUF
penalty summary
1st Period
Colton Orr  Fighting (maj) against  Andrew Peters
Andrew Peters  Fighting (maj) against  Colton Orr
Adam Mair  Hooking against  Scott Gomez
Dmitri Kalinin  Hooking against  Jason Pominville
Paul Mara  Tripping against  Derek Roy
Clarke MacArthur  Tripping against  Colton Orr
2nd Period
Michal Rozsival  Tripping against  Daniel Paille
Paul Mara  Fighting (maj) against  Patrick Kaleta
Paul Mara  Aggressor against  Patrick Kaleta
Clarke MacArthur  Hooking against  Marc Staal
3rd Period
Craig Rivet  Hi stick - double minor against  Ryan Callahan
goalie stats
Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller
SA: 20TOI: 59:52
Saves: 19EV: 14 - 15
PIM: 0PP: 5 - 5
SV%: .950SH: 0 - 0
Henrik Lundqvist
SA: 19TOI: 57:48
Saves: 16EV: 10 - 10
PIM: 0PP: 5 - 7
SV%: .842SH: 1 - 2
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