Zibanejad scores in OT, Rangers beat Sabres 3-2
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Mika Zibanejad one-timed in Artemi Panarin’s pass 4:32 into overtime, and the New York Rangers overcame giving up a late goal in a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.
Filip Chytil and Colin Blackwell also scored and Igor Shesterkin stopped 21 shots in a game New York persevered after Buffalo’s Tage Thompson forced overtime by scoring with 4 seconds left.
“Listen, it’s a kick in the (rear) when you give up a goal with 3 (actually 4) seconds to go, and play the way we did for the second and third period. But I though we were able to pull ourselves together,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “But, listen, we found a way to win and get two points, which really at the end of the day when you’re this deep into the season is all that matters.”
The Rangers won for the fifth time in seven outings, and improved to 7-3-1 in their past 11 since ending a three-game skid. New York moved into a tie for fifth place in the East Division with the slumping Philadelphia Flyers, who are off until Saturday, and coming off a 6-1 loss at Buffalo on Wednesday night.
New York also moved to within three points of fourth-place Boston after the Bruins lost to the Penguins on Thursday.
The Sabres are now 1-0-1 after beating the Flyers to snap Buffalo’s 0-15-3 skid which ranked as the NHL’s 14th-longest winless streak.
Though Buffalo opened the scoring on Rasmus Asplund’s goal 2:06 in, the team appeared to run out of steam in playing on consecutive nights. The Sabres were outshot 47-23 overall and 36-11 after the first period.
Buffalo still had enough resolve with Thompson scoring through a crowd from the left circle and with the Sabres’ net empty for an extra attacker.
“Fatigue is a factor certainly when you play back-to-back and the other team didn’t. I mean, there’s not a way around it,” Sabres interim coach Don Granato said. “But I thought our guys elevated tremendously in the last few minutes to get that goal.”
Backup Dustin Tokarski stopped 44 shots in having his record drop to 0-3-1 this season.
The teams complete a two-game series at Buffalo on Saturday night.
The decisive goal came on a 2-on-1 break with Panarin driving up the right wing. He fed a pass across to Zibanejad, who blasted in a shot from the left circle.
Chytil put the Rangers up 2-1 during a scramble to the right of the net at 6:17 of the third. He flipped a shot over Tokarski, who was attempting to smother the puck before New York’s Julien Gauthier dug it loose.
While Tokarski was impressed with how Buffalo rallied to force overtime, Thompson felt the team let down their goalie.
“It would have felt a lot better to get the win. He deserved that one big time,” Thompson said.
The Sabres failed to win consecutive games for just the second time this season, and yet continue to show signs of improvement since Granato took over after Ralph Krueger was fired on March 17.
Asplund’s goal marked the fourth consecutive game Buffalo has scored first after doing so only nine previous times this season.
Panarin had two assists to give him 88 in 94 games with the Rangers. He moved ahead of Wayne Gretzky, who had 86 assist through his first 100 games in New York. Mark Messier’s 92 assists through 100 games tops the Blueshirts’ list.
Ryan Strome had an assist to extend his point streak to 11 games, in which he has two goals and 14 assists. Strome also has assists in 10 straight games, matching New York’s second longest streak set by Rod Gilbert in 1968-69. Brian Leetch holds the team record with assists in 15 straight in 1991-92.
“Honestly, don’t try to think about it too much,” Strome said of his assist streak. “To be in that company is a nice honor, but this time of the year, even though it’s a cliché, just finding ways to get wins is important.”
BACK ON TEXTING TERMS
Granato joked things were becoming so difficult during the Sabres’ skid, family and friends were no longer texting him after losses. Even his dad.
That changed after Granato checked his phone following the win.
“The thing lit up pretty good,” he said. “I’d wondered if people were watching or stopped watching, but apparently they didn’t.”
Rangers: Center Brett Howden is on the verge of being cleared from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol, after spending his 11th day on the list. Quinn could not provide a timetable for Howden’s return, except to say he won’t rejoin the team until the Rangers return to New York after playing at Buffalo on Saturday.
Sabres: Center Curtis Lazar is listed week to week with a lower-body injury sustained on Wednesday. Asplund played his first game after missing four with an upper-body injury.
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