Igor Shesterkin clutch stops sets stage for Chris Kreider OT winner to beat Sabres 4-3

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at New York Rangers
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers aimed to head into the Christmas break on a high note as they hosted the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. They were able to do just that. In what was an incredibly hard-fought game, the Rangers were able to pull out the win in extra time and will enjoy the holidays with a smile.

In the contest, Ryan Lindgren and Artemi Panarin each recorded a goal. Mika Zibanejad logged a goal and two assists as he continues his hot streak. Chris Kreider scored the overtime winner and registered an assist. Blake Wheeler registered an assist in his impressive run as well. Adam Fox, Jonny Brodzinski, and Nick Bonino also had assists.

“It’s a big win for us,” Zibanejad said. “Especially with the break coming up. We’ve done a pretty good job all season and you want to enjoy the holidays.”

The Rangers are now 4-0 in overtime games this season.

Related: Next man up mentality paying off

New York Rangers 4 vs Buffalo Sabres 3 (OT)

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at New York Rangers
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The teams got off to a bit of a slow start in the opening minutes of this contest. However, it didn’t take long for the players to warm up and the pace to intensify. The Rangers would come close several times as they were beginning to generate good scoring chances.

Following numerous close calls, the Rangers finally broke through. With heavy traffic in front of the net, Ryan Lindgren was able to fire one home from the point for his second goal of the season, putting the Rangers up 1-0 less than halfway through the first.

Solid goaltending and some help from the post after a shot from Tage Thompson kept the Rangers up by one. Shortly thereafter, some good speed up the middle of the ice by Vincent Trocheck was able to draw a hooking call and send New York to their first power play.

On the ensuing man advantage, the Rangers managed sustained pressure for over a minute. Artemi Panarin was then able to tuck one just underneath the crossbar and give New York a 2-0 lead. A minute and two seconds later, Buffalo capitalized on a good scoring chance as Rasmus Dahlin was able to beat Igor Shesterkin, cutting the Rangers’ lead to one.

Overall, it was a solid first period for the Rangers and a much-needed one. They were able to quickly wipe away the memory of the third period against Edmonton less than 24 hours ago, when they gave up four goals.

Momentum would continue to swing in favor of the Sabres to start the second period. Less than two minutes into the frame, Jack Quinn walked into the Rangers’ zone and beat Shesterkin high over the blocker. The Rangers seemed to back into their zone without stepping up and pressuring, giving Quinn and the Sabres room to even the score.

After being out shot 5-1 through six minutes in the second, the Rangers desperately needed to turn things around. New York’s top line of Kreider-Zibanejad-Wheeler was able to cash in once again as Mika Zibanejad was able to jam home a rebound off a shot from Kreider. Both Zibanejad and Wheeler have been scoring at an incredible pace as of late. Thanks to their efforts, the Rangers now find themselves with a 3-2 lead.

Tempers began to flare as the middle frame moved along. Will Cuylle was the catalyst of it all as a big hit caused Erik Johnson of the Sabres to retaliate and drop the gloves. As a result of this, Johnson was given 5 minutes for fighting, 2 for instigating, and a 10-minute misconduct. Among the chaos, Jeff Skinner was also given a 10-minute misconduct. Cuylle, who was simply defending himself, only received 5 minutes for fighting.

The Rangers came away with a two-minute power play as a result of the madness. Unfortunately, they were unable to capitalize. Both power play units were robbed by Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who was able to keep the score at 3-2.

After a slow start to the second, the Rangers turned it around and managed to take a one-goal lead into the third period.

The Rangers came close to putting it away early in the third as Vincent Trocheck rang one off the post in the opening minutes. The teams would trade chances for the next several minutes as the Blueshirts held on to their one-goal lead.

Unfortunately, they would not be able to hold on. After a poor passing play by New York, Buffalo would find the back of the net on a second-chance opportunity from Casey Mittelstadt. With 12 minutes to go, it was a 3-3 game.

New York would then find themselves on a power play, but it was highlighted only by an Igor Shesterkin save on a Buffalo breakaway. The score remained tied as time began to wind down in the final frame.

With just under three minutes to play, the Rangers’ penalty kill unit was put to the test for the first time. Incredible work by the man-down unit led to an offensive chance and, with that, a drawn penalty, sending the teams to play four aside followed by a New York power play with time winding down.

Regulation would end with the game tied at three, with the Rangers still on the power play for 45 seconds as overtime was set to begin.

New York was unable to capitalize on the man advantage as the overtime period moved along. Igor Shesterkin then made three incredible stops to keep the game alive, one of them coming on a breakaway.

The Rangers then stormed down the ice, and Mika Zibanejad was able to find Chris Kreider in front for the overtime game winner. The Rangers would take this hard-fought contest by a final score of 4-3.

There was a lot of resiliency,” coach Peter Laviolette stated afterwards. “Especially coming off (the loss to Edmonton), to play the way we did was really good.”

Rangers Notes

  • Igor Shesterkin stopped 27 out of 30 shots
  • With a goal and two assists tonight, Mika Zibanejad is now on a 7 game point scoring streak, he has 13 points (8G-5A) in that span
  • The Rangers now have 7 consecutive games with a power play goal
  • With an assist tonight, Blake Wheeler has 7 points (3G-4A) in his last 6 games
  • With the overtime winner and an assists tonight, Chris Kreider has 8 points (3G-5A) in his last 5 games

The Rangers will be back in action on December 27th when they host the Washington Capitals. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM ET.

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh