Alexis Lafreniere elevates Rangers over Sabres in OT with his first NHL goal

The first overall draft pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, scored his first ever NHL goal. Alexis Lafreniere, the first overall pick for the New York Rangers since 1965 breaks the Blueshirts losing streak in style.

Lafreniere, who never hung his head once while seeing glorious scoring opportunities thwarted time and again, finally got the payoff he was looking for. And the kid picked one hell of a moment to do it.

The Rangers got their first win since pummeling the Islanders 5-0 in the second game of the season. This time a 3-2 victory over the Sabres in OT.

Alexis Does It! Lafreniere’s first NHL goal

It was the tail end of a long shift for the 19 year-old rookie, but Colin Blackwell was able to get the puck and send a feed cross ice. Lafreniere, unlike a few other chances earlier in the game, calmly settled the puck before lifting it for the euphoric game winner.

After the game, David Quinn called Lafreniere “ballsy” for his tenacious play. It was a great moment for him, but he understood that the goal was even bigger for his team to break the losing streak.

The close friendship between K’Andre Miller, who was on the ice when Lafreniere scored, is obvious. Miller could be heard screaming with joy on the ice when his buddy buried the puck past Linus Ullmark.

Alexis Lafreniere
Miller helps Lafreniere celebrate his first NHL goal (Photo by Sara Schmidle/NHLI via Getty Images)

It may seem silly to bring something like that up, but the last dynasty in the NHL started as a bunch of kids learning to win for each other. The Oilers of the 80s always mention it from Wayne Gretzky to Mark Messier. They cared about each other, and it showed in big games and tough situations.

Artemi Panarin, superhero

Let’s not lose sight of just how incredible the best player on the Rangers is. Without a doubt, Lafreniere doesn’t even get that chance in OT if not for Artemi Panarin.

Panarin assisted on the first goal with an unreal pass to Ryan Strome and then willed in the Rangers second goal. Ullmark was unreal for the Sabres and was stopping everyone in regulation.

Everyone except the Breadman. He now has 3 goals and 5 assists in 7 games this season.

Igor Shesterkin got the job done

The numbers didn’t look good after the first period, with Igor Shesterkin giving up a goal on only 5 shots. However, the reality is that almost all 5 of the shots he faced were dangerous, and no one was stopping Jack Eichel’s tip in.

All and all, Shesterkin stopped 23 of 25 shots and is now primed to make a run at getting this team on track. After the game, he congratulated Alexis on his goal, thanked his teammates for the hard-work in front, but admitted he has more work to do in order to get the Rangers back in it.

Post Game Notes:

  • Each of the Rangers’ last five games, and five of the team’s seven games this season, have been decided by one goal.
  • The Blueshirts registered 39 shots on goal in tonight’s contest, including 15 shots on goal in the first period. The Rangers have recorded at least 30 shots on goal in five of the last six games and have outshot their opponent in each of those six contests.
  • The Rangers held Buffalo to 25 shots on goal in tonight’s contest, including only nine shots on goal through the first two periods. New York has held its opponent to 28 shots on goal or fewer in each of the last six games.
  • Alexis Lafrenière tallied his first career NHL goal/point, which was the game-winning goal in overtime, and registered four shots on goal. He was selected as the game’s Third Star. Lafrenière is the first Ranger to record an overtime goal for his first career NHL goal since Mats Zuccarello on Jan. 5, 2011. 
  • Artemi Panarin registered two points (one goal, one assist), recorded four shots on goal, posted a plus-two rating, and drew a penalty in 21:06 of ice time. Panarin was selected as the game’s First Star. He has tallied a point in five of the last six games (three goals, five assists), including an assist in four of the last five games.
  • Ryan Strome tallied the first goal of the game, won seven of 13 faceoffs (53.8%), posted a plus-two rating, and drew a penalty in tonight’s contest. He has registered a goal/point in two of the last three games (two goals).
  • Colin Blackwell recorded an assist on the game-winning goal in overtime, led all skaters with four hits and two takeaways, and posted a plus-one rating while skating in a single-game career-high 15:53 of ice time.

Post Game Notes courtesy NYR

The Rangers are scheduled for a day off tomorrow.

Their next game is set for Saturday, Jan. 30 vs. Pittsburgh (7:00 p.m. ET – TV: MSG Network)

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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