Kreider helps Rangers hand Sabres 14th straight loss, 5-3
NEW YORK (AP) — Chris Kreider scored twice, including the tiebreaking goal in the third period, and the New York Rangers beat Buffalo 5-3 on Monday night for the Sabres’ franchise record-tying 14th straight loss.
Kaapo Kakko also scored twice and Adam Fox had a goal and two assists as the Rangers won for the fourth time in six games (4-1-1) by beating the Sabres for the 10th time in the last 13 meetings. Artemi Panarin had three assists and Ryan Strome added two.
Keith Kinkaid, starting a second consecutive game, stopped 16 shots to improve to 3-1-1 this season.
“It’s a resilient group here,” Fox said. “Early in the year it was tough not winning games that we were going into the third with a lead. Against Washington (on Saturday) and this game we lost the lead but got it right back and didn’t really falter.”
Rasmus Asplund, Dylan Cozens and Jeff Skinner scored for Buffalo, which fell to 0-12-2 to match the NHL’s longest skid since the Sabres went 0-14-0 midway through the 2014-15 season.
“We have to face the facts and face it and accept it,” Buffalo interim coach Don Granato said. “It’s not embarrassing. It’s not, ‘This is awful.’ It’s find a way to do what you can take control of. And that’s the way you move ahead. We don’t want to dwell.”
Carter Hutton started and made two saves before leaving 2:51 into the game after the Rangers’ Julien Gauthier slid hard into him while being pushed by Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. Dustin Tokarski, called up from the taxi squad earlier in the day, came on and finished with 33 saves in his first NHL appearance since Oct. 28, 2016.
With the Sabres trailing 3-1 after two periods, Cozens — back after missing four games with an injury — pulled them within one as he took a pass from Sam Reinnhart and beat Kinkaid at 1:09 of the third.
Skinner tied it at 4:22 on a breakaway after a turnover by the Rangers as he skated up the middle of the ice and fired into the top left corner for his third.
“They came out and didn’t hang their heads,” Granato said. “Even to the end they believed. They kept a pace that showed you they believed. ... The body language was great and needs to continue.”
Kreider put New York back ahead just 1:25 later with his second power-play goal of the night as he batted the rebound of Strome’s shot out of the air and past Tokarski for his 16th.
The Sabres pulled Tokarski for an extra skater with about 1:20 left, and Kakko added an empty-netter with 57.7 seconds left for his second of the night and fourth of the season to seal the win.
“They just seem really resilient and nothing fazing them right now,” said acting coach Kris Knoblauch, who spent his fourth straight game behind the bench while the Rangers’ coaching staff is out due to COVID-19 protocol. “We did have a 3-1 lead, guys could have been upset and really worried, playing tight, but they didn’t. They just continued to play on.”
Skinner had two chances early in the second period, but Kinkaid made sprawling saves on both attempts.
Asplund gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead at 3:52 of the second. Standing on the left side of the net when Riley Sheahan sent the puck from behind the cage toward him, Asplund knocked it down with his skate and quickly put it in while Kinkaid was looking for it on the other side. It was Asplund’s second goal in six games this season.
Kakko tied it at 7:13 after he got a pass from Panarin and then knocked in the rebound of his own shot for the 20-year-old’s first goal since Jan. 22, ending a 19-game drought.
“It always feels good when you score a goal but after a long time even better,” Kakko said.
The Rangers had a 5-on-3 advantage for 19 seconds on overlapping penalties to Sabres defensemen Rasmus Dahlin and Jacob Bryson. Seconds before the first penalty expired, Kreider deflected a pass from Panarin up into the top right corner with 9:21 left in the second.
Fox, playing in his 100th NHL game, made it 3-1 with 1:42 remaining on a Rangers rush as he knocked in the rebound of a shot by Mika Zibanejad for his third.
“Its a special accomplishment to even play one game in the NHL. Happy to play 100 here and have my parents come and my brother to most games,” Fox said. “It’s definitely special for me. I’m glad we got the win.”
The Sabres went 0 for 2 on the power play, falling to 0 for 21 over their last 13 games.
The Rangers were 2 for 3 with the man advantage, improving to 4 for 13 over their last four games. Buffalo has given up eight goals on its opponents’ 21 power plays over the last seven games.
Kreider has 173 career goals, moving past Anders Hedberg for 20th place on the franchise list.
Tokarski was called up to back up Hutton two days after Buffalo dealt G Jonas Johansson to Colorado for a sixth-round draft pick in 2021. G Linus Ullmark, sidelined with a lower-body injury since Feb. 27, is with the team on its four-game trip.
The Sabres also recalled Asplund from the taxi squad earlier in the day.
Strome has seven assists and eight points during a six-game point streak. He also has assists in a career-high five straight. ... Panarin has totaled 12 assists and 18 points in 15 career games against the Sabres. ... Kreider has 10 goals and 14 points in 22 games against Buffalo.
Sabres: At the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night to open a two-game series.
Rangers: At the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night to open a two-game series.
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